UH's new guards can't help but be better


POSTED: Sunday, November 08, 2009

There were additions this offseason to the Hawaii backcourt, yes.

But there were some losses, too—All-WAC defensive teamer Kareem Nitoto transferred out, as did oft-erratic shooting guard Lasha Parghalava, who was sometimes also decent on D.

While much has been made about long-range shooting, success this season for the Rainbow Warriors could hinge on how rapidly new 6-foot junior guards Dwain Williams and Jeremy Lay embrace team defensive principles.

“;Not everybody has a great defender,”; coach Bob Nash said. “;We thought Kareem had the ability to be a stopper for us. Now we have to rely more on our system, team defense. We teach them our basic defensive principles and hope that they will rely on that as opposed to an individual being able to stop another individual. We want it to be a team effort; it's a team game.”;

Offense is an entirely different story; losing Nitoto and Parghalava could be addition by subtraction. Nitoto struggled at times in guiding the Rainbows in the halfcourt and was a reluctant 3-point shooter at 24.4 percent. Parghalava was anything but reluctant—often hoisting shots from anywhere at any time—but made only 27.4 percent of his treys, which hurt even more.

Thus, if Williams, Lay and 6-2 junior point guard returnee Hiram Thompson can shoot the long ball at a reasonable clip of 35 percent or higher it'll be a drastic offensive improvement over anything UH had to offer at guard last year. Thompson was the most accurate at 31.3 percent as the Rainbows languished near the bottom of Division I in several offensive categories.


        ”;At any time we're going to mix and match those guys together, put them on the floor. I wouldn't be surprised if we have all three of them out there at some point.”;
        —Eran Ganot / UH assistant coach, on the Rainbows' guard rotation of Hiram Thompson, Dwain Williams and Jeremy Lay

The good news: The newcomers shot about 40 percent on 3s in their last seasons (at Providence of the Big East in 2007-08 for Williams and Northern Oklahoma-Enid JC for Lay) and Thompson's range looks to be much improved in practices.

“;A lot of times teams would zone us—sometimes a lot because we struggled to shoot the ball, and a lot because teams didn't want to guard our man (offense),”; said third-year assistant Eran Ganot, who works with the guards. “;Now they're going to have to make some decisions. It'll be hard to leave (Dwain), and leave Hiram and Jeremy. Those are the three guys who can shoot. Jeremy's more of a set-up guy and he's going to hit those open shots, but Dwain's got a quick trigger and he's got deep range and he's probably as confident as any player in our league. That's a good thing for a shooter, especially a guy who can shoot like he can.”;

But the key, Ganot said, is for the guards (Thompson and Williams are the likely starters) to be flexible.

“;At any time we're going to mix and match those guys together, put them on the floor,”; he said. “;I wouldn't be surprised if we have all three of them out there at some point. We have flexibility with our lineup, we can move Rod (Flemings) to the 4.”;

That's where team defense comes into play; larger guards could give the Rainbows' backcourt trouble, especially if somebody picks up two quick fouls.

UH has sophomore walk-on Leroy Lutu Jr. to assist in that department. At 6-3, 200 pounds, Lutu arrived in the program able to mix it up with other physical guards. Now, Ganot said, he needs to continue to work on his shooting.

Former UH football defensive back Rykin Enos (5-11, 200) walked on and will be a scout-team guard.



No. PlayerHt.Wt.Cl.Key Statistics
2 Hiram Thompson6-2175Jr.Averaged 3.9 ppg, 2.4 apg
20 Jeremy Lay6-0185Jr.16.7 ppg, 6.5 apg in junior college
5 Dwain Williams6-0175Jr.Played 2 years at Providence
22 Leroy Lutu Jr.6-3200So.Played both G positions as freshman
12 Rykin Enos5-11200So.Former UH football defensive back