True hoops junkie Luettgerodt multitasks
UH tri-captain Luettgerodt centers his life around the sport he loves
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Riley Luettgerodt has been a consistent scorer in his senior season, but has been finding other ways to impact games as well.
Who: New Mexico State at Hawaii
When: 7:05 p.m. today
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
Luettgerodt didn't make a shot from the field in Hawaii's win at Idaho last Saturday, but still had a pivotal role in the outcome with a couple of key rebounds late and four critical free throws to secure the road win.
"I'm just trying to help out," Luettgerodt said. "There's nights offensively that haven't been my best nights, so I'm just trying to pick it up in other areas."
Luettgerodt, a senior tri-captain, has started all 19 games this season. He's averaging 12.1 points for the Rainbow Warriors, and is tied for the team lead in rebounds.
"He's a Warrior," UH coach Bob Nash said. "He bangs, he rebounds, he plays solid D. He's the kind of guy that can get in the paint and find his own shot. He's a guy that can create for other guys."
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FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Riley Luettgerodt is learning to contribute in many different ways for the Rainbow Warriors this season.
Given the daily grind of meetings, film sessions and practices, some basketball players might want to use their down time to take a step away from the game.
Riley Luettgerodt can't get enough.
Once he's back in his room, the Hawaii senior starts clicking through the channels to find a game or catch highlights on "SportsCenter" -- sometimes to the chagrin of his roommate.
"He watches a lot of basketball. He watches more than I like," fellow Hawaii senior Stephen Verwers said. "Especially when he watches replays of games. You've already seen it once. Why do we have to watch it again?"
Luettgerodt's hoops addiction goes back to his days growing up in Oregon, and if he beats Verwers to the remote, chances are it'll be another basketball night at their Hale Noelani apartment.
"A lot of these guys watch all these MTV shows and I'm not really into that," Luettgerodt said. "I'd rather watch a basketball game.
"Some people get burned out on it, but I can watch it all day."
Luettgerodt will get some air time himself next week when Hawaii plays at Nevada on ESPN2 in the Rainbow Warriors' only scheduled national television appearance of the regular season.
In the meantime, he's concentrating on doing his part for the Rainbows (8-11 overall, 4-3 Western Athletic) in a homestand that begins tonight against New Mexico State and continues Saturday against Louisiana Tech at the Stan Sheriff Center.
A contributor off the bench last season, Luettgerodt has started all 19 games as a senior, averaging 12.1 points per outing. The 6-foot-5 swingman is also tied for the team lead in rebounding with 4.7 per game and has led the Rainbows on the boards in each of the last three games.
"Besides P.J. (Owsley) we don't have a true post player, so I've taken pride in my rebounding and set a goal to try to be our leading rebounder," the UH tri-captain said.
"At the start of the year I thought I could definitely improve my rebounding. It's really just about effort. For me personally, if I'm getting a lot of rebounds it's showing how hard I'm playing."
Luettgerodt had one of his lowest scoring nights of the season in last Saturday's win at Idaho. But he came down with key rebounds in the final moments and hit four free throws in the final 32 seconds to seal the 58-53 win.
Those free throws represented all of his scoring, but he didn't get antsy about being blanked to that point.
"It wasn't a feeling like, 'I have to get my points,' " he said. "Everybody wants to score, but the way the situation was going -- P.J. was producing in the post and Jared (Dillinger) got us going early and it was a grind-it-out kind of game -- it would have been a negative for my team if I would have really started to be aggressive at that point. So I accepted that and tried to do the little things."
That perspective came with time for Luettgerodt, who was used to putting up big numbers at Chemeketa Community College, where he averaged 26.7 points as a sophomore and once put up 53 points in a game.
"That's a growth process," he said. "When I was younger in my playing days, it was all about scoring, but right now at this point of the season it's just about whatever helps the team."
Off the court, Luettgerodt was also quick to lend Verwers a hand after the center suffered a broken leg last month that ended his senior season and limited his mobility.
"He helped me get through it," Verwers said. "After my parents left, he'd go get me Burger King or something, helped me move around. ... That's what teammates do."
Luettgerodt has an admitted weakness for sweets -- Otter Pops in particular -- and a craving for hoops fostered by his father, Kevin, while growing up in Gladstone, Ore. They'd hit the top high school games in the area and watch current NBA players such as Freddie Jones and Mike Dunleavy play as local prep standouts.
And a youth spent following the game only fueled his drive toward playing college ball himself.
"Growing up and watching it, you want to play at the highest level," he said. "That's everybody's goal."