DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chaminade center Marko Kolaric pointed to his signature on a ball from the Maui Invitational yesterday.
Chaminade’s big deal
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Too much information? Perhaps. But it only adds to the charm and mystique that is Marko Kolaric.
When the Serbian national first arrived at Chaminade in 2004, one of the first outings for the men's basketball team was to Waimea Bay. The Silverswords hit the beach wearing boardshorts ... all expect for the rookie center who, as is the European fashion, was in a green Speedo.
"Yes, it was interesting," Kolaric said. "I wore it for every game the last three years. But it doesn't fit now."
That's because Kolaric has added nearly 40 pounds to his 7-foot frame. He has beefed up his physique much as he has beefed up his game: The Silversword senior has recorded eight double-doubles, including a 19 point, 11 rebound performance in last Saturday's 66-63 win at Grand Canyon, Chaminade's 10th straight.
The Silverswords (14-4, 9-0 PacWest) go for No. 11 tonight when they host Hawaii Pacific (4-14, 1-8) at McCabe Gym at 7:30.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Seven-foot center Marko Kolaric is averaging 11.6 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for Chaminade, which has won its last 10 games and plays HPU tonight.
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There's something to be said for always being hungry.
For Marko Kolaric, there's need for double sustenance, at the food court as well as on the basketball court. Chaminade's 7-foot senior center is often satiated by trips to Subway and L&L, but the real hunger is fed when he can contribute to a Silverswords victory.
Helped in part by Kolaric's eight double-doubles, Chaminade (14-4, 10-0 PacWest) is having one of the most successful seasons in the program's history. The Silverswords won a Maui Invitational game for the first time in Kolaric's four-year career last November, upsetting Princeton 74-70; last week, Chaminade defeated Grand Canyon twice to run its winning streak to 10 heading into tonight's game with Hawaii Pacific.
"Because I know it's my last year, I think I've stepped it up," said Kolaric, a Serbian national. "I don't know what happened in a couple of other games, I started not playing my game. But I think I've stepped it up again.
"Improvement? I'm getting older and I'm getting stronger, mentally and physically. I need to keep playing with that aggressiveness."
On a team with six seniors and balanced scoring, Kolaric is averaging 11.6 points and 9.0 rebounds. He also has 29 blocks, 14 steals and 29 assists.
The 23-year-old is very un-Shaq-esque from the free-throw line as well. Kolaric is hitting 88 percent in PacWest play, 75 percent overall.
A solid overall game, Kolaric knows, is the ticket to the pros, whether it's in the NBA or in Europe. He remained in the U.S. over the summer and attended Pete Newell's Big Man's Camp in Las Vegas, and he hopes to pursue a playing career after he graduates this May with a degree in international business.
"Marko's just been great for us," Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said. "He's such a hard worker and I've seen his progress every year. He's way more aggressive on the boards. Anything that comes into his area is his.
"His presence inside bothers so many shots. And if you leave him open at 15 feet, he'll make you pay."
And off the court?
"Everybody loves Marko," Mahar said.
Mahar, then an assistant coach, said he wasn't sure when first seeing a tape of Kolaric five years ago. Former Silversword Igor Beljanski had recommended his fellow Serb.
"We were a little wishy-washy, but we decided to take a chance," said Mahar, who replaced Aaron Griess as head coach three years ago. "He's been a big part of our success."
It's been an educational experience for Kolaric as it has been for Mahar and the rest of the Silverswords. During the trip to Phoenix last week, the team ate at a Serbian restaurant.
"The people were from a different part of his country," Mahar said. "If it had been a few years ago, during the war, they would not have been speaking.
"It was a cool experience for all of us."
Since he hasn't been back to Serbia in nearly two years, being able to enjoy food from home made Kolaric very happy.
"I think that is what I miss the most, Serbian sausage and meat pies," said Kolaric, an honorable-mention preseason All-American by Division II Bulletin Magazine. "I have enjoyed being here. I didn't contact any other school and I was excited when (Chaminade) contacted me.
"I was up for something new. My parents asked me two summers about my decision. I'm very happy I came here."