HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
No rest for Crusaders
Saint Louis isn't wasting any time getting into the thick of the boys basketball season.
Top 10 Countdown
With boys high school basketball season approaching, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10, as determined in a poll of coaches and media members:
5. Saint Louis
"I found out (Friday) our first game will be against Rice, which is ranked 10th in the country," coach Delbert Tengan said. "Their point guard has already committed to UConn."
The Crusaders drew the powerhouse Owls from New York in the first round of the Iolani Classic that begins Dec. 18.
Since the football season ran through the end of November, the basketball team only began practicing last week. They have less than three weeks to prepare for the Iolani tournament, which will serve as their preseason opener.
"It's a real good test for us because you not only get the good mainland teams, but you get the good local teams as well," Tengan said.
Even with the loss of all-state center Scott Smith, the Crusaders are ranked fifth in the Star Bulletin preseason Top 10.
Between the Iolani Classic and the Walter Wong Holiday Classic that the Crusaders host every year, they will play only seven games before beginning the ILH regular season in the first week of January.
"It will still be enough games to be ready for the ILH," Tengan said. "I think we'll be as competitive as we were in past years. We've got enough height to compete."
2006-07 record: 22-7 (10-3 ILH)
On paper: Four-year starter Cole Shidaki is back for his senior season and will be counted on to provide the main scoring punch. At 6-foot-5, Jamison Miller will try to fill the shoes vacated by Smith, who now plays football at California.
Micah McClinton and 6-1 Lucas Gonsalves provide solid 3-point shooting and Michael Tuiloma is another key returnee. The Crusaders have two sophomores in guard Marcus Umu and forward Moses Samia, who should contribute. Senior Geordan Hanohano provides another key post presence once he's done with football recruiting trips.
The skinny: The Crusaders have been a two- or three-man show for the past few years, but will be well rounded this season. Shidaki has played alongside some great players, but will now be the focal point of the offense. Gonsalves and McClinton need to keep opposing defenses from playing zone by shooting well from the outside, allowing the Crusaders' big men to make more of an impact on the boards. Hanohano will be busy making recruiting trips early on, but when he returns to the team full-time, could make them dangerous late in the season.
X-factor: The Crusaders are a unique team in that they have a nice blend of size and speed.
"We're all about the same height, in the 6-1, 6-2 range," Tengan said. "We also have a lot of quickness on our team and hope to play some up-tempo ball this year."
The core group of players has played together for a while now and are seasoned enough to handle a tough preseason. They don't have that marquee name who will blow people away, but as a unit, could be as together as any team in the state.