Newcomers will play bigger roles for ’Bows
With the rotation shrinking, getting production out of the newcomers figures to become more of a necessity for the Hawaii basketball team.
The Rainbow Warriors are down to 10 players and the recent loss of starting center Stephen Verwers means having to look to some of the team's younger players to provide more minutes off the bench.
"All those guys have to step up now and try to help us," UH coach Bob Nash said. "With foul trouble, guys needing rest, we'll need to get guys in and out of there. So we have to get something off that bench, we have to get production.
"We're 11 games in, so they shouldn't be rookies any more. We have to have them all step up and be accountable and get the job done."
Entering tomorrow's game against Centenary, the Rainbows continue to lean heavily on a senior class that accounts for most of the team's production and playing time, with Bobby Nash, Riley Luettgerodt and Matt Gibson all averaging more than 32 minutes per game.
Verwers had been contributing 20 minutes per game in the post before suffering a broken leg on Christmas Day. Senior P.J. Owsley, who had been a top reserve, moved into the first five in Thursday's game against New Mexico.
Sophomore forward Bill Amis started the first 10 games, but came off the bench against New Mexico. Center Paul Campbell got in for 6 minutes at the end of the first half, scoring on a putback at the buzzer, after playing 10 minutes over the previous five games.
Freshman Kareem Nitoto contributed 14 minutes at point guard, and sophomore forward Adhar Mayen rotated in for 11 minutes after playing a total of 10 in UH's previous two contests and not getting into the three prior to that.
"I'm just trying to be calm out there and not rush things," Mayen said. "It helps a lot gaining experience every time you're out there. All of the newcomers have to step up a lot. Stephen's a big missing piece and we have to make up for that."
Senior Alex Veit didn't play on Thursday, but could also work into the rotation.
The lineup shuffling also means Bobby Nash figures to be a bit of a nomad for the remainder of the season. He's played everywhere from point guard to center, and will be asked to work more in the post with Verwers' out of the lineup.
"It's cool. I'll just make adjustments and fill spots when necessary," he said.
Said Bob Nash: "It takes away from his game sometimes. ... He's real good at coming off screens, catching and shooting. This way he's forced to be down there fighting bigger, stronger guys and sometimes that wears him down. He just needs to continue to step up and help the team any way he can."
Change in plan
After Thursday's loss to New Mexico, the initial plan was for the Rainbows to have a relatively light workout yesterday. After a film session and a team meeting, they decided to go through a full practice at Gym II.
"We got a reality check that we didn't play with pride in our defense, and that can't happen," Bob Nash said of the review of the 79-69 loss to the Lobos. "We asked some guys to step up, we opened up the meeting for discussion and we discussed some things, hopefully we'll have a positive outcome from it.
"Guys understand that we've got six seniors and this is their last go-around, and we're now moving into the most important part (of the season), getting into conference play."
After one of the biggest shooting nights of his UH career, Bobby Nash credited his sister with an assist.
Erika Nash, who is attending school on the mainland, is back home for the holidays and helped out her brother with some extra shooting before Thursday's game. Bobby responded by hitting a career-high six 3-pointers.
"She said, 'Let's go get some shots up, I want you ready for the game today,' " Bobby said. "She's my lucky charm. That's what big sisters do. She's my everything."
UH's game with Centenary tips off at 5:05 p.m. tomorrow at the Stan Sheriff Center. The game caps Hawaii's six-game homestand.
The team is scheduled to leave Monday morning on its road trip to Utah State to open the Western Athletic Conference season.