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Basketball beckons while Ostrowski embraces football


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POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009

Tim Shepherd spies me talking to Miah Ostrowski after Hawaii basketball practice yesterday. He makes sure I know the deal — there is no deal. Not yet.

“;He's just a spectator ... at this point,”; says Shepherd, the former UH star and now director of operations.

Ostrowski, a third-string football slotback, was just sitting quietly yesterday morning, observing. His teammates who play in the football games were in Reno. His possible future teammates were getting ready for tonight's opening exhibition against Hawaii-Hilo. The two new point guard possibilities were out with injuries, making Ostrowski's presence all the more intriguing.

Head coach Bob Nash says, “;We haven't had that conversation yet,”; when asked if Ostrowski has jumped through the hoops to play hoops. Nash doesn't want to ruffle feathers, says it is up to Ostrowski to get the blessing of football coach Greg McMackin.

But the former football player of the year and Punahou point guard made a significant step in this bizarre ongoing courtship that had been going nowhere slowly since Ostrowski arrived at Manoa in 2007.

Maybe they can make a trade — because Big Shep sure looks like he could help out on the defensive line. Actually, I have to believe football owes basketball a point guard to be named later ... wasn't that part of the deal when forwards Tony Akpan and Ikaika Alama-Francis jumped Riley Wallace's ship to play defensive end for June Jones?

In the old days, plenty of guys played both. Recently, it's a one-way street, basketball to football. Going back to the 1980s, hardcourt hard guys Sam Johnson and Vincent Smalls tried football. Johnson lettered as a tight end, Smalls lasted just a few practices.

Another slotback of recent vintage, Marquez Jackson, was going to try basketball, too. But he exited Hawaii altogether before doing much of anything other than run pass routes at football practice. Other than that, I can't think of any football players who have cross-overed to try their cross-over.

“;I JUST mess around, couple times a week,”; says Ostrowski, when asked of his basketball readiness. “;Football keeps me busy.”;

Montana State offered him early in basketball, but along came Jones.

“;I wasn't really thinking about football coming out of high school. But June said I could play both. When he left, I figured I had to stay with football.”;

Ostrowski says he's not frustrated about the lack of football playing time.

“;Not really, I'm still one of the young guys. I'm behind Greg (Salas) and the juniors.”;

Losing isn't fun, though, even when you're not in the lineup.

“;But we're a team, and those are the guys I'm with every day,”; Ostrowski says. “;We're brothers, a family.”;

He wants to do both. Problem is, these two families practice at the same time — in the morning.

THEN THERE'S the question of how much Ostrowski could contribute. At 5-feet-9 can he defend well enough against Division I guards? With the injuries that have hit the Rainbows guards lately, can Nash afford not to find out?

Only if it's not tampering, he says.

“;We were never not interested,”; Nash says. “;But I was not going to seek it out and interfere with him in his other sport.”;

Ostrowski says he's ready.

“;We'll try to figure something out. (The football coaches) know. We just haven't talked about it yet.”;

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.