Senior guard Milia Macfarlane appeared at Friday night's Midnight Ohana festivities dressed as Catwoman. The Wahine finished their scrimmage in a 17-17 tie as Dalia Solia led all scorers with eight points.

‘Heroes’ kick off
hoops season

The UH men’s and women’s
basketball teams hold court
at Midnight Ohana

Riley Wallace was happy with what he saw from his new guards early Saturday morning following Friday night's Midnight Ohana, the first official practice of the Hawaii basketball season.

But he liked his big men even better.

"I just see a lot of different combinations out there," Wallace said of his team, which features a plethora of newcomers. "We'll be much more interchangeable than any team we've ever had."

Fans got a glimpse of it when the Rainbows split into Green and White teams for their annual opening-night scrimmage.

Bobby Nash made four of five shots from 3-point range for the White team to lead all scorers with 14 points. But Jeff Blackett's 11 points led the Green to a 31-28 win on a night in which basketball took a back seat to the pageantry of elaborate Halloween-style disguises.

The Hawaii men's and women's teams upheld a recent tradition by making their midnight entrance in costume, this year to the theme of "Super Heroes of UH Basketball."

Alter egos included Nash as Indiana Jones, Jake Sottos as Zorro, Vaidotas Peciukas as Tarzan, Trisha Nishimoto as UH strength coach Tommy Heffernan, Jade Abele as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Amy Sanders as Lara Croft, Milos Zivanovic as a character from "The Matrix" (complete with slow-motion, bullet-dodging effects) and Julian Sensley as the Punisher.

The best?

"I thought the Three Amigos were pretty good," Wallace said.

Those would be his assistants, Bob Nash, Jackson Wheeler and Bob Burke. No word on which was portraying Chevy Chase.

Hawaii senior Vaidotas Peciukas, dressed as Tarzan, went to the hoop on Friday night.

Players strutted the length of the court in costume, making their first layups of the season in muscle suits and masks (and go-go boots).

Wallace appeared as Star Wars villain Darth Vader, and new Rainbow Wahine coach Jim Bolla was the Terminator.

When he took off his helmet, Wallace was upbeat at what he saw in what was officially billed as a "mini scrimmage."

New guard Matt Gibson hit the floor several times and had nine points for the Green team. Fellow junior college transfer Deonte Tatum, who won the slam-dunk contest, drew praise from Wallace and had fun in his first appearance as a UH player.

"Felt good. Felt good. Felt good," a laid-back Tatum said later. "I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it."

Wallace noted that Zivanovic will be much-improved this season and praised Peciukas -- who had seven points for the Green -- for his ability to run the floor.

Preseason Western Athletic Conference newcomer of the year Matthew Gipson had what Wallace called "his first run" since coming off arthroscopic knee surgery. In one defensive possession, the 6-9 Gipson knocked the ball out of Sensley's hands, then blocked Sensley's shot. But he admitted he was tired at the end of the night.

"My wind will come," Gipson said of his conditioning.

With the costume drama behind them, that's one of the many things the Rainbows will be working on now.

"It was definitely fun," Nash said. "Any time you can dress up and act the fool, everybody's happy."

"You can see, there's a lot of potential out there," Wallace said. "We have a lot of work to do and that's what we need to do."

"The new guys don't really have the concept of the offense yet," Gipson said. "So all that starts tomorrow."

Rainbow Wahine tie: With a Reggie Miller-like performance, the Green team's Dalia Solia scored the last six points of regulation and the Green and White went through a sudden-death overtime period scoreless as the UH women's team ended its scrimmage 17-17.

Solia cut to the basket for a layup to pull the Green within six, then stole the inbound pass for another score. With the final seconds ticking down, she stole the ball at half court and cruised for another layup to tie.

She led all scorers with eight points.

The women's contest saw celebrity coaches John Veneri of Channel 2 and Liz Chun of Channel 9 openly give the officials money.

In the spirit of the night, the money was openly accepted.

Love and war: Nash reclaimed the 3-point shooting crown for the UH men. But he was under even more pressure than usual. He had to compete against his girlfriend, Sanders.

Will there be repercussions?

"I hope not," Nash said, laughing. "She really wanted to win."

Slam dunk: Tatum's winning dunk was a tap on the backboard followed by a two-handed slam. He credited teammate Kenny Kelly with giving him the idea.

UH Fabulous Five members Jerome Freeman, Dwight Holiday and Al Davis served as contest judges. Each gave Tatum's final slam a perfect "10".

Of course, UH associate head coach Bob Nash is a fourth member of the Fabulous Five. John Penebacker rounds out the famed starting unit.

In private: Wallace said his team's preseason practices will be closed to the general public, at least "for now."



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