Baldwin sports new look
For a young staff and a school without tradition, the unexpected departure of three projected senior starters could be a disaster.
In Wayne Gushiken's hands, the Baldwin boys basketball program will survive. In fact, the Bears and their throwback, structured style will likely succeed more often than not. Because of that statewide perception, voters in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Top 10 staked Baldwin at No. 10.
The Bears lost two starters, Jordan Helle and Mikey Marrs, to the soccer squad. Helle, a 6-foot-2 center, and slashing guard Marrs were going to be cornerstones for the Bears. Chase Nakamura, agile and tough under the basket with his 6-3 frame, will find out this week whether his injured knee will be strong enough to play hoops.
Nakamura and Helle formed one of the best passing combinations in the state during the past two football seasons. Nakamura returned to the football field recently and showed good form, though he was not at full speed and strength, football coach A.J. Roloos said. The knee injury occurred last summer when Nakamura attended football camps on the mainland.
2006-07 record: 13-14 (8-3 MIL). The Bears finished second in the MIL last season, losing guard John Salmo to graduation.
On paper: The loss of Helle, Nakamura and Salmo are huge. Though Helle wasn't a dominant post player, he was consistent and steady. Nakamura was up and down last season, barely playing in a state-tournament, opening-round 70-45 loss to Iolani because of foul trouble. Marrs wasn't a fit, but Baldwin fans were hoping for that light to switch on once he figured out his place in the system.
The skinny: Twenty-two turnovers derailed Baldwin's game as the Bears struggled against tough man defense.
Lahainaluna, by and far, is regarded as the best team in the MIL. It may take the Top 10 panel a little more time to recognize the Lunas, especially considering the uphill battle facing Baldwin.
The Bears have point guard Micah Shibano, a 5-10 senior, back.
"He's a good outside shooter. Smart player," Gushiken said.
Viliami Lavaka, a 6-4, 215-pound senior, is in his second season in the sport. Built like a football player, he has never stepped on the gridiron despite being a rugby player. In basketball, he has nice potential.
"Last year, stamina was his problem. He's really done a lot of conditioning in the offseason," Gushiken said.
X factor: The worst-case scenario is that Gushiken can mold some young players immediately -- ahead of schedule -- and perhaps make a strong run late in the season, if not next year. The Baldwin system requires rigid adherence to specific motion and perfect bounce passes to cutters, and Gushiken and his staff will have time to work with the players who want to be in the gym.
"Coaching these guys has been good, they listen, 'Yes coach,' and they do it. We're gonna be a blue-collar team," Gushiken said.
Top 10 countdown
The Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10 boys basketball teams, as determined in a poll of coaches and media members:
3. Next Tuesday
2. Dec. 12
1. Dec. 13