Saturday, October 31, 1998
High-flying Erin GallowayBy Cindy Luis
gives the Rainbow basketball team
reason for optimism
CALL him "Chopper."
Call him "Helicopter."
Call him the answer to 11 Down in Crossword of the Pacific in this past Monday's Star-Bulletin.
Erin Galloway doesn't care. What he wants is to be called on often this season, his second and final one for the University of Hawaii men's basketball team.
Big things are expected from the big man with the 43-inch vertical jump. He's 6-foot-8, but "Erin gives you an added dimension because he plays a lot bigger than he is," Rainbow associate head coach Bob Nash said.
Nash literally sees eye-to-eye with Galloway. He also appreciates what his senior forward brings to the team: a strong work ethic, quiet leadership and the ability to electrify his teammates and the crowd with his explosive jumps.
Remember the game against No. 1 Kansas last December? Galloway's monster block of a shot by 7-footer Eric Chenowith was almost as huge as the Rainbows' upset victory over the Jayhawks in the Rainbow Classic championship game.
Any time coach Riley Wallace wants a quick smile, he pulls out the tape from Dec. 30 and fast-forwards to what is simply known as "The Block."
"I go search just for that play to just see how high he was," Wallace said. "How high? I tell people he was so high that you wouldn't want to jump off of something that high up."
Which brings us to irony around the iron: Galloway's fear of heights. It's actually more a case of vertigo, and it didn't prevent him from going airborne in a helicopter to film the opening sequence for the scoreboard JumboTron at Midnight Ohana two weeks ago.
"The helicopter was loud, but it was pretty cool," Galloway said. "I had never been in one."
He obviously has no phobia about trying new things. He fell in love with Hawaii on his first visit, deciding to play for the Rainbows instead of Maryland.
"It was the nice weather and the nice people that did it," Galloway said. "That and the coaches here were very honest with me. I had wanted to go to Maryland. They were telling me stuff that seemed too good to be true. I have no regrets and I never look back. I always try to make the best of my decisions."
Staying in school is one of those decisions. His game plan coming out of high school in Georgia was to play college ball for a few years then take off to the NBA.
"I'm a little behind schedule," said Galloway, who help Atlanta Metro College advance to the JUCO National Tournament in 1997. "My goal is to play professionally, but it's also to get a degree. Depending on what happens (professionally), I could graduate after this summer.
"Education is important to my family. Growing up, it was the 'No pass, no play' stuff."
Galloway is majoring in Ethnic Studies and he would like to become a corporate mediator, working on resolutions between management and employees.
Now, the job is getting the Rainbows -- with half the roster made up of newcomers -- onto the same page. Galloway said he can relate to the adjustment his new teammates are having to make.
"Last year was a big adjustment for me, another level," said Galloway, who averaged 7.6 points and 6.4 points last season. "In junior college, if you're 6-8, you're not going to run into a lot of people bigger than you.
"This is so much more organized. You can't be out there and not know what's going on. That's what hurt me last year. I wasn't catching on to the plays, I was surprised when the ball came to me. Everything is 'Bam, bam.' If you are standing around, you are doing something wrong."
Galloway wants to correct the situation. He spent the summer playing in a pro-am league in Los Angeles and working out with several NBA players, including Cedric Ceballos.
"I think the summer really helped him," Nash said. "He's been working on his perimeter skills, getting more confidence on the perimeter and shooting the ball with more confidence. I'm looking for this to be a break-out year for Erin, looking for him to explode offensively, average 15-16 points a game. For us to be competitive, both he and Mike (Robinson) have to step it up."
"Erin's way ahead of last year," Wallace said. "Once in a while, he'll surprise me in practice with how quick he gets up there on a blocked shot or a dunk. It seems to me that if I were playing with him, I'd want to give him every opportunity to do that because it excites you and it excites the crowd.
"I don't think Erin will be a big-time scorer, but he can be big-time with his rebounding and blocks. He knows he's going to have to step it up and he spent the summer working on his game. He's improved a lot."
Galloway, the two-time defending Midnight Ohana dunk champion, is ready to take the Rainbows to the next level. And to the NCAA Tournament.
"We don't want the NIT again," he said. "Not getting in (the NCAA Tournament) was bad, especially after our big wins.
"We'll see what happens Sunday (an exhibition with the California All-Stars) and take it from there. We have just two weeks until our first game (Nov. 15 against Cal). If everyone comes together, it will be a real good season.
"I'm feeling pretty good about the team. Everyone's getting on the same page. We've got a lot of potential. I just want to add to what I did last year and do whatever I can to get the job done."
Rainbow basketballTomorrow: Hawaii vs. California All-Stars (exhibition), 4:30 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: $4 students, $5 super rooters, $6-$7 adults