H A W A I I _ S P O R T S


Tuesday, October 19, 1999

Big men will
need more finesse

Riley Wallace's team has the potential for an even stronger inside game this season with five very athletic big men.

Centers Todd Fields (7 feet) and team captain Marquette Alexander (6-8), as well as forwards Troy Ostler (6-9), Bernard McIntosh (6-8) and Phil Martin (6-7), all have the ability to rebound, block shots and bang.

But Wallace said there's one small catch.

"The new (NCAA) rule won't let you be physical," he said. "You can't put the forearm in the guy's back and walk him out. You can't put the leg in and walk him out. It's going to be more of a finesse game on the inside."

Wallace, who said he has already explained the rule to his frontcourt players, has only one solution.

"We've just got to be more careful," he said.

Wallace said hand-checking through the lane will also be prohibited this season.

That might account for the intense running and footwork drills conducted by Rainbows coaches during the first three official practices.

Ostler (a transfer from Salt Lake Community College, Utah), though thin for a man his size, has looked exceptional in combination with Alexander (last year's leading scorer).

"He's thin but he is talented," said Wallace. "If he plays hard and takes the beating inside that goes with Division I, then he could be a good player."

More production

Wallace said his frontcourt scoring was one of the few bright spots last season and he hopes it gets even better this season.

"Last year, our big men were the leading scorers for the first time (Alexander and Mike Robinson)," said Wallace, who pointed out that guards have usually topped his stats.

"Marquette has to improve his defense and rebounding and his offense will be there. Then he has to get some help from the perimeter. If he gets the ball more, he will score more. We have to work on getting the ball in to him."

Strong showing

The word from strength coach Tom Heffernan is that the team's biggest man, Fields, seems to be about 85 percent recovered from his knee problem. He has good north-south movement but is still not entirely comfortable with his lateral movement.

Even in that limited state of readiness, Fields could play an important role.

"Todd knows how to play," said Wallace. "If he can get up and down the court with his wheels, he'll play. He can post and do some thing for us."

Alexander has said he thinks Fields will be a very aggressive center.

Fields is currently in Texas for the funeral of his stepfather, former Denver Broncos quarterback Steve Ramsey.

Wallace said he spoke to Fields by phone yesterday and found that family business will delay the player's return to Hawaii.

Martin appeals

Martin's eligibility appeal will be filed soon. It has to do with a letter of intent signed with a Division II school prior to his signature with Hawaii. Wallace anticipates no difficulty in winning the appeal for the Canadian, who could become a solid shot blocker.

Replacement team

Wallace said he hopes to have a replacement this week for the Chinese National Team, which has cancelled out of a Nov. 7 date at the Stan Sheriff Center. It will be the Rainbows' first game as a unified squad.

Foul trouble

During the 1998-99 season, Hawaii got to the free-throw line 438 times but opponents got there 647 times.

That's a big concern for Wallace in 1999-2000.

"We've got to force ourselves to run the offense better and I think we have guys who can do that and get to the foul line more often," he said.

Wallace said guard Predrag Savovic could help Hawaii in this regard because he thrives on taking the ball to the hole.

"Our scoring was OK last year, but we have to play better defense and create more situations where we can get to the foul line. We want to come out of every possession with something," said Wallace.

Pat Bigold

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