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Experienced 'Bows ready for work


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POSTED: Friday, October 16, 2009

It takes a little longer these days to walk into a gym and take stock of the seniors on the Hawaii men's basketball team.

The Rainbow Warriors go from having none last year to six in 2009-10 when they tip off their first official practice today at 5 p.m. The returning experience is a large reason head coach Bob Nash made an 18-win guarantee for the season ahead at the team's media day yesterday.

Nash is counting on his top-heavy roster to set the tone, especially for the Rainbows' three active newcomers—junior center Douglas Kurtz, and guards Dwain Williams and Jeremy Lay—who are expected to contribute immediately. UH went 13-17 last year (5-11 in the Western Athletic Conference).

“;With the new players we brought in and the experienced players we have coming back, I'm very optimistic that this group will be very successful,”; Nash said. “;I've guaranteed 18, but as long as these guys give me great effort every night, I take my chances with doing what they need to do on a nightly basis. I don't think we're going to be an easy out for anybody coming into our building or going on the road. I think we're going to show great effort and great fortitude in trying to have a great year.”;

The offseason work regimen by some of the senior Rainbows would seem to back that up.

Swingman Roderick Flemings, an NBA hopeful, went to the adidas Nations camp for top college players near his native Dallas, and focused on his defense, shooting and ball-handling. Forwards Bill Amis and Petras Balocka stayed in Hawaii over the summer—they played in the NCAA summer league in Manoa—to hone their games and fitness levels for their final year. And Nash was impressed with forward Adhar Mayen's drive to improve.

Balocka, who was at times criticized by the UH coaches last season for his playful nature at practices, was all business yesterday. He's fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery and noticed a serious tone during the team's open gyms that wasn't present last year. He even went on thrice-weekly runs of 4.5 miles with Nash.

“;It's not like we're going through this phase of freshmen becoming sophomores, of boys becoming the men,”; Balocka said. “;We (are) all grown men here, and we don't act like little kids. I think we're way more mature than we were last year. We don't have to set (the) tone; the tone is there because everybody comes here and knows we have to get it done and what we're looking for.”;

Eighteen wins in either of the next two seasons (or a postseason tournament appearance) are also what Nash needs to kick in a one-year contract extension for 2011-12.

 

Enos added to roster

Kamehameha graduate Rykin Enos will be the 16th player on the UH roster as a walk-on, joining non-scholarship players Leroy Lutu Jr. and Beau Albrechtson. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Enos, formerly a reserve defensive back on the UH football team, was cut when the Warriors' roster was pared down after the spring.

He played football and basketball in high school and was a Star-Bulletin Fab 15 hoops pick in 2006 and 2007.

“;He is a guy who impressed us as a guard who understands the game,”; Nash said. “;He has a good feel, can shoot the ball well from the outside.”;

 

Transfer Johnson recovering

Arizona transfer guard Zane Johnson had knee surgery recently and isn't expected to practice with the Rainbows until the spring semester.

“;The main thing is let those things heal over time, not to be in a rush to get him back,”; Nash said.

The 6-foot-5 Johnson, along with Duquesne transfer Aleksandar Milovic, must sit out games this season per NCAA rules.