HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Akina seeks patience and intensity in his Trojans
The 2006-07 season was one of overachievement and underachievement for the Mililani Trojans.
Top 10 Countdown
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For longtime Trojans fans who wanted to see their boys basketball team dominate the West, it was a good time. But those same fans saw the Trojans go two-and-out in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red playoffs. Great regular season. No state tournament.
That's why they're back at it under second-year coach Hiram Akina. The hoops guru isn't looking past the West, not by any means. He's more concerned with molding together the new and the old, and redefining roles.
Akina's patience and intensity are important facets of a Trojans program that has long had high expectations. This year's team may have the right depth, variety and skill to get back to the state tourney.
2006-07 record: 21-7 (12-2 OIA Red). No state tourney.
On paper: Mililani is 1-2 in nonconference play after the Pete Smith Classic. After edging a tough Moanalua squad 61-59, the Trojans were clipped by Kamehameha 64-62. An 11-point overtime loss to Maryknoll closed out the tourney for Mililani.
Guard Curtis Murakami is making a key transition. As a sparkplug off the bench last year, he often attacked defenses in transition. Now, he's the starting point guard.
"It's a different role, not just coming in and giving us energy. He's been filling the role and doing well. It'll take him a few more games to realize everything he's responsible for," Akina said. "He plays with all heart."
Newcomers Reid Pangelinan (6-5) and Warren Duke (6-3) are key to Mililani's post play. Pangelinan did not play in the Pete Smith Classic, but has plenty of upside.
"We brought him up at the end of last year, and he played against Kaimuki," Akina said of the 290-pound junior who also plays volleyball. "The first thing he'll do for us is he'll give us a post player on the offensive end. We have perimeter players, and he's really agile inside with great hands. He likes to pass. He's gonna be a load to handle. On the defensive end, he shuts the lane down."
Duke is slithery around the glass and hits the boards hard.
"He finds a way to get rebounds, sneak his way inside and get offensive rebounds," Akina noted.
Senior returnees Scott Burns (6-0) and Jonathan Keen (6-3) can attack the basket and hit the perimeter shot. Both are swingmen, but Burns is more apt to launch the 3, while Keen tends to draw contact. Keen, who played at Thompson Academy as a sophomore, is a good free-throw shooter.
The skinny: Burns has the tools to emerge as a key player, but Akina is hoping the senior plays with a bigger motor.
"Scott Burns is gonna be a force for us when he puts his game together. We need him playing 3, 4 minutes at a time real hard. He's so athletic," Akina said.
Another factor is probably Mililani's biggest addition. Nehoa Akina, a 5-8 sophomore, transferred from Kahuku to play under his dad. The Akinas are renting a home in Mililani, where Hiram works.
"We stay here during the week. We're splitting the family up. My wife and my daughters are back home," Akina said. "It was an adjustment for him coming from Kahuku. He's just getting into the swing of things school-wise, new friends, new environments."
Nehoa Akina is a gym rat with great handles, but is averaging 10 points per game at the 2-guard spot while Murakami mans the point.
Regardless, the Trojans showed impatience in the final minutes of regulation, and then in overtime against Maryknoll's 2-3 zone.
"We need patience. We addressed that in practice," Akina said. "Sometimes a loss is good if you learn from it."
X factor: The Trojans are athletic and deep enough to cover the entire floor and go uptempo. Akina plans to open up the playbook over time.
For now, he's concerned with the pressbreaker.
"Kamehameha gave us some problems (with fullcourt pressure). We couldn't sustain that pressure in practice," he said.
He is also concerned about post defense. "We gave up so many points in the paint last year. It was the same thing with Maryknoll, and our guys didn't rotate," he said. "Defense and rebounding, we have to improve on that."