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Punahou still solid


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POSTED: Thursday, December 31, 2009

EIGHTH IN A SERIES » Alika Smith, boys basketball coach at Punahou.

That has quite a ring to it. Of all the programs the former Kalaheo standout and UH assistant coach could've guided, Punahou never really seemed like a destination.

That changed when Dan Hale stepped down and Smith, then coaching at AOP, signed up for the post.

So far, so good. The Buffanblu are 9-1 and ranked No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Preseason Top 10.

“;I'm having so much fun, it should be a crime,”; Smith said before yesterday's game against Arcata (Calif.) at the St. Francis Merv Lopes Classic.

“;You're working with kids, the knowledge they're soaking up. You get to implement everything you've ever wanted to because they're picking it up so fast.”;

On paper: Malik Johnson, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, has a combination of mid-range shooting skills and athleticism. After playing football for the first time in the fall, he stepped on the hardwood and had 20 points and 11 rebounds in Punahou's early-December 58-55 loss to Kamehameha at the James Alegre Invitational.

Deforest Buckner, a 6-7 sophomore, would've had a double-double in that game if not for missed free throws.

Punahou is deep in the backcourt and wing, where Taylor Crabb (6-2), Henry Cassiday (6-3) and senior point guard Matt Feldman are among the mainstays.

The skinny: Smith likes the athleticism and size of his squad.

“;We can get out and go. We've got horses that can run. It makes the whole game that much more fun. The more we press, the more kids play,”; Smith said.

Finding consistent perimeter shooting will be key.

X factor: If football standout Kaiwi Crabb (6-5, 272) controls the paint, speedsters like Johnson and Buckner could fill the lanes on the break on a regular basis.