Captain Thompson, for now


POSTED: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bob Nash's mantra on injuries has long been: “;When one man goes down, another's gotta step up.”;

The same now applies to team captaincy for the Hawaii men's basketball team.

When the Rainbow Warriors coach counted up his players' votes for their 2009-10 captain this week, Nash had a decision to make. The overwhelming top vote-getter, senior forward Bill Amis, is sidelined indefinitely with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. So until Amis is healthy enough to play again, Nash transferred skipper duties to the runner-up: junior point guard Hiram Thompson.

“;First of all, you gotta have the respect of your teammates ... and he's a good example because he shows up every day and works hard,”; Nash said. “;He doesn't take any days off and that's what you want out of your leader, to show that kind of quality.”;

It's a major contrast to the start of last season for Thompson, of El Dorado Hills, Calif. As a sophomore newly returned from a two-year church mission, he was physically unprepared for the rigors of Division I hoops and missed five of the first six games with hamstring injuries.

He never got fully healthy last season, but returned a far stronger player this summer after diligently working out at home. He scored 19 points in UH's first exhibition vs. Hawaii-Hilo and dished nine assists in the second against Brigham Young-Hawaii.

Determination combined with an unassuming persona earned Thompson the respect of his peers. Thus, he assumes the mantle of leadership seriously with the team's Friday regular-season opener vs. Southern Utah looming in the reformatted Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.

“;It's a great honor to be chosen from the teammates to be captain,”; Thompson said. “;It's good to know that you're respected by others and look at you as an example. But I know I'm going to have to work even harder for the responsibility, so I can't take it lightly.”;

Amis, one of six seniors, became the Rainbows' de facto team captain last season when UH had no seniors and no player was officially voted the title. He learned on the job how to approach and deal with problems. Now he'll help Thompson through a similar leadership learning curve.

“;I had to kind of learn on the fly,”; Amis said. “;But I learned a lot, I think, in how I should deal with that responsibility and it'll carry over when I get healthy. I'm injured now, but still gonna be vocal and everything. Trying to help the guys, motivate them.”;

Thompson has never been the loudest player at practices (that distinction easily goes to senior Petras Balocka) and rarely, if ever, gets on a teammate's case on the floor. But as the Rainbows' starting point guard and floor general, he'll need to ramp up his communication, anyway.

“;I'm kind of a shy guy so I'm definitely going to have to get out of my comfort zone and be vocal out there,”; Thompson said.

“;Hiram is more of a quieter leader,”; Nash said. “;But I think sometimes he can be vocal. He does have that capacity. Him having that responsibility will bring it out, he'll become more communicative with his teammates, with his coaches. Out on the floor, things in the locker room that need to be addressed. He's gotta take that leadership role.”;