UH's Mayen a steady force


POSTED: Friday, November 27, 2009

Adhar Mayen needed a change.

Nothing as drastic as his family's move from civil-war-torn Sudan to Texas when he was 6, or his decision to transfer to Hawaii from junior college in his home state.

Nope, no world-spanning journey this time for the Rainbow Warriors' senior forward. All it took was a shift of a few inches; his jump shot was off.

Mayen altered his shoulder-loaded, right-handed jumper by moving his shooting elbow left, across his face, like his days at Pflugerville High School in Texas. It's a fix he hopes leads to a successful final year, for both himself and his team, after losing UH campaigns in 2007-08 and '08-09.

“;I think I've progressed a lot,”; the 6-foot-8, 195-pound Mayen said. “;I'm not what I expected to be, but I've progressed over the years. I just had more goals that I wanted me and my team to accomplish. We're just working for that right now.”;

Though UH (2-2) is on a two-game skid, Mayen's made the most of his opportunities off the bench. He's shot 12-for-20 from the field (a team-best 60 percent) for 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Over his first two seasons at UH after arriving from Hill College as a sophomore, he shot 37.9 and 38.9 percent.

If he's open, he'll take the shot. His release isn't the quickest, but his height and high-arching jumper allow him to shoot with a hand in his face, too.

UH BASKETBALL        New Mexico (5-0) vs. Hawaii (2-2)
        » When: 8 p.m. tonight (following 5 p.m. Rainbow Wahine basketball game)
        » Where: Stan Sheriff Center
        » TV: Oceanic Digital Ch. 255
        » Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM

The Rainbows will be counting on the same efficient production from Mayen today when UH takes on unbeaten New Mexico (5-0)—a team that's outscored its opponents by a margin of 20.8 points per game—at 8 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Lobos are shooting 41.7 percent on 3-pointers and average 82 points per game. UNM has already blown out Western Athletic Conference teams New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech.

As a wing player, Mayen will be instrumental in helping stop UNM's top scorers, Darington Hobson (17.6), Roman Martinez (13.8) and Phillip McDonald (13.6). All are dangerous from the perimeter. Mayen's contributions will be magnified if UH is without guard Dwain Williams today (illness/personal matters).

“;He plays within himself, he doesn't try to get outside of his comfort zone,”; said coach Bob Nash, who brought in Mayen as part of his initial recruiting class. “;Sometimes we would want him to do that on the defensive end, being a little bit more aggressive defensively, but on offense, he lets it come to him—he doesn't go out and hunt it all the time. When you get a guy who thinks that way, it shows his success on the court. It's kind of the reason he's having the success that he's had.”;

On the court and in front of strangers, you'll rarely hear a peep out of Mayen. When he was paired up as roommates with fellow newcomer Paul Campbell in 2007, Campbell didn't know quite what to think.

“;(My first impression) was this guy's quiet, he keeps to himself,”; Campbell said. “;But you get to know him, he talks a lot, he jokes. 'Dhar's probably one of the most funny people on the team.”;

And competitive. Mayen and Campbell, still roomies, engage in spirited NBA 2K video game battles regularly.

“;I beat him on that all the time,”; Mayen said with a head shake. “;I just like to make him mad.”;

Mayen also devotes time to staying in touch with his mother in Texas, and father, Archangelo, who is working for the Sudanese government—a source of pride for Adhar.

Mayen, serious again, reflected on his decision to play basketball in the middle of the Pacific with the end of his Hawaii road in sight.

“;I've just been on a long journey by myself,”; Mayen said. “;Trying to find myself, trying to be a better person and graduate, get educated.”;

He's set for a degree in sports management next summer.

Lobos reloading quickly

New Mexico lost its top three scorers from last year's NIT team, but the up-tempo Lobos haven't lost a step, with double-digit wins in their first five games.

Still, last year's Mountain West coach of the year, Steve Alford, remains wary.

“;We're young, so I think it's always going to be a work in progress this year,”; Alford said. “;Every week presents different challenges, and this week is the length we have to travel. Playing at Hawaii is never easy. But we've gotten off to a good start and have been playing pretty good basketball.”;