Carl English will be asked to step up his scoring for UH now that Predrag Savovic has moved on to the NBA.

Sharp Shooter

Carl English is ready to
pick up the slack left by
the departure of Savovic

By Cindy Luis

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He hit just 9 of 10 targets while shooting skeet last summer. "Just" 9 of 10. Excellent by most standards, from skeet to free-throw shooting.

"I let the last one get away," says Carl English.

It was just for fun. A cathartic, relaxing break from the worries of basketball.

Outside of Patrick's Cove, Newfoundland (pop. 71), off Placentia Bay, it was English, his brother and Hawaii coach Riley Wallace, who happened by for a visit en route to Lithuania.

That Wallace made it all the way up to Patrick's Cove meant a lot to English. Most tourists driving on Route 100 are headed to Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve, passing through the tiny fishing community said to be the most beautiful place on the Cape Shore.

"It wasn't exactly on his way," said the 21-year-old junior guard. "Newfoundland is not on anybody's way.

"For him and his wife (Joan) to come out and spend time with me and my family ... it shows he respects me and it shows how our relationship has grown."

English and Wallace take another step together tomorrow night with Midnight Ohana's "Disco Days" at the Stan Sheriff Center. The mini-carnival starts at 8 p.m. with the Rainbow and Wahine teams introduced at 11:30 p.m., followed by 3-point-shooting and slam-dunk contests, and the men's intrasquad scrimmage at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

This will be English's fourth Midnight Ohana. He redshirted two games into the 1999-2000 season after undergoing surgery on his left ankle.

It also could be his last. English graduates this spring with a liberal studies degree, an interdisciplinary program that combines kinesiology, business marketing, management and communications.

Though the Rainbows lose three contributors from last season's WAC champions, English feels Hawaii has the talent for a three-peat.

English likes that the degree gives him options in four areas. He's leaning toward sports management but ...

"I'm not sure what I want to do," he said.

A lot of that rides on this season. The immediate goal is to have the Rainbows three-peat as Western Athletic Conference champions. The WAC tournament will be held in Tulsa for a third straight year, so why not?

But English and the rest of his Hawaii teammates want to go where no Rainbow team has ever gone. To the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

And then? There are thoughts of turning pro. Of playing for Canada in the 2004 Olympics, maybe 2008.

"We'll see how this year goes," said English. "I don't want to jinx me. If you get a chance to go pro, anybody would jump at it.

"But first I want to graduate. And I want to help the team. If we get past the first round, I think it will open more doors."

English sees his targets. He's taking aim.

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This was the first summer without his uncle Junior McGrath, who died in English's arms after a heart attack during a fishing trip in the summer of 2001. English and his four brothers were raised by Junior and Betty McGrath after their parents died in a house fire when English was 5.

"It's been tough, but I've gotten over it, so to speak," said English. "You can dwell on it or you can use it as a motivational factor. I still have family and people back there who love me.

"And when Coach Wallace came to visit, it meant a lot. We've gone through a lot together and he's been there for me."

The Hawaii coach, beginning his 16th season, can relate better than some. He lost his own dad while attending Centenary some 40 years ago.

"I wanted to meet his family," said Wallace. "I had heard so much about Newfoundland and I wanted to see where Carl was from. It's a beautiful place."

Wallace likes to hunt and fish, but hasn't done much skeet shooting. He hit 5 of 10 targets during the session with English.

If it had been free-throw shooting in the Sheriff Center, the joke is that Wallace would still be running full-court sprints.

"He was decent," English said. "It's always tough when you use a different gun. He was under pressure. And we practiced before he came."

English turned down a chance to play for the Canadian team at the World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis in order to work on his game. With the departure of leading scorer Predrag Savovic to the NBA, English knows he'll have to pick up the slack.

"Savo taught me so much," said English. "He gave 100 percent every day and he and I battled day in and day out.

"But it's like when your family member passes. You don't forget what we did in the past, but we move on. It's a new season. The work ethic is there. If we're all willing to give 100 percent every day, we should be ready to go."

Last year's senior class of Savovic, Mike McIntyre and Mindaugas Burneika combined for 1,124 points -- 55 percent of UH's scoring. English, second to Savovic in scoring (15.5 ppg) will replace the All-American at shooting guard.

"Scoring has never been my problem," English said. "You're not going to hear me complain. I love to have the ball in my hand. I love to create for my teammates.

"My role will change this year. We have the personnel to win it (the WAC) again. I'll do my part to make it happen. We're older, wiser and we're hungry."

One thing has haunted English for the past seven months: The last 9.6 seconds of the first half against Xavier in the NCAA first-round game. With the Rainbows up 40-30, English drove the key earlier than Wallace wanted and picked up a charge; the Musketeers responded with a 3-point shot at the buzzer that pulled Xavier to 40-33. The Musketeers won 70-58.

"You learn from your mistakes," said English. "Put it this way. I don't think it will happen again. It was a factor, but we still had 20 minutes left and a lead. Things dried up."

English is ready to get things started again. He has taken to heart a quote Wallace said he read while in Canada.

"He said, 'You practice for the bad days because the good days will take care of themselves,' " said English. "There's no truer statement. You've got to prepare for both the good and the bad days."

Tomorrow, English again takes aim.

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