Flemings will play in UH's exhibition opener tonight


POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009

The Hawaii men's basketball team will look to its veterans tonight for a strong start to the season in the first of two exhibition games.

Coach Bob Nash said yesterday that junior point guard Hiram Thompson, senior swingmen Adhar Mayen and Roderick Flemings, and senior forwards Bill Amis and Petras Balocka will get the starting nod against the Division II Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off is 7:05 p.m.

While it's good news that Flemings - the team's leading scorer last year at 16.6 points per game - is healthy enough to play (likely in a limited capacity because of a groin pull), fans hoping for a look at newcomers Jeremy Lay, Dwain Williams and Douglas Kurtz will have to wait a bit longer.

“;I obviously want to win these exhibition games, but also gotta be smart and we gotta get ready for our regular season,”; Nash said. “;It's going to be really strenuous and rigorous, and we need our horse (Flemings) to ride. And so we gotta get him healthy and ready to go.”;

Nash said Lay and Williams, his prized new guards, are ruled out against the PacWest Conference Vulcans with injuries. Kurtz hasn't been able to go full speed since the start of official practices two weeks ago because of a bone bruise in his knee. Senior forward Brandon Adams is also doubtful after walking around in a boot on his tweaked left ankle yesterday.

But Thompson is primed for a strong start to the year after an offseason in which he trained hard to rehab worn hamstrings on both legs that limited him in all of 2008-09. And as the only available guard with game experience besides Leroy Lutu Jr., he's ready for a heavy allotment of minutes.

“;I mean, there's really not any comparison. It's like black and white,”; Thompson said with a chuckle. “;I have legs, I feel good, can get up and down the court more than a couple times. I'm just excited to get into game time and see what I can do.”;

Though the 6-foot-8 Mayen is sliding over to fill in at shooting guard, the sophomore walk-on Lutu could also see a heavy load.

“;We know we're a little thin at the guard position right now, but that's not going to stop us from going as hard as we can on the court,”; Lutu said. “;Like Coach Nash said, we just have to play with the strength of unity. Make the right decisions and come out with the 'W.' “;

The Rainbow Warriors were caught off guard last year when Vulcans forward Jay DeMaestri opened up the game by pulling up for a 3-pointer from the “;H”; at midcourt. He hit all net on his way to 21 points and nearly led UHH to an upset in a 72-70 loss to UH.

But the Vulcans' personnel is almost entirely new this year, with multiple junior college transfers.

“;I don't know if they'll have anybody pulling up from halfcourt on 3-pointers,”; Amis said. “;But if they do I think we'll be ready for that.”;





        The Rainbow Warriors will play their first exhibition game tonight against the Vulcans. UH's starters:

» Hiram Thompson: Was UH's most inspirational player last year


» Adhar Mayen: Played in all 30 games last year


» Roderick Flemings: UH's leading scorer


» Bill Amis: UH's top rebounder


» Petras Balocka: Had three double-doubles last year