Guards go young


POSTED: Monday, November 10, 2008


Mature quickly, or else.

Rapid growth is a must for the guards of the Hawaii men's basketball team, who will be counted on to organize the young Rainbow Warriors as Bob Nash takes the next step in implementing his up-tempo attack.

No matter their listed position, point or shooting guard, Kareem Nitoto, Hiram Thompson, Lasha Parghalava and invited walk-on Leroy Lutu Jr. realize they're responsible for production—if not directly, then by getting the team's bigs involved by entering the team's flex-motion offense or orchestrating the fast break.

A fifth guard, walk-on Gary Satterwhite Jr., will miss time as he recovers from torn cartilage in his shoulder.

Much will be asked of the young guards (a junior, two sophomores and a freshman) because of the statistical production—and leadership—the Rainbows lost.

Gone is fiery point man Matt Gibson and his team-best 17 points per game. Gibson was also a willing 3-point shooter, with 38 made last year. Departed perimeter players Bobby Nash, Riley Luettgerodt and Jared Dillinger (combined 36.2 ppg) could all play shooting guard if asked.

A Hawaii team with no seniors will look first to Nitoto, Gibson's former backup, for leadership. Of the guards, he is the only one with any career starts (one) for the 'Bows. And he got the nod in both of the Rainbows' exhibition wins.

The athletic sophomore's personal expectations now meet those of his coaches; his work ethic, particularly in regard to his shooting, is lauded by assistant Eran Ganot. He also notched a team-record 45-inch vertical jump in strength and conditioning testing.

“;I was just learning how to play my position and learning how to play on the college level and I had a lot of nervous energy when I played,”; Nitoto said of his freshman season. “;This year I learned how to calm down, let everything happen. Learn how to shoot in the game, how to just set my feet and knock down shots. I'm learning how to run a team this year, so I'll play a whole lot better than I did in my last showing.”;

While Nitoto develops his outside shot (he went 3-for-18 from long range as a freshman), Parghalava, a junior college transfer, must fill the 3-point void. He knocked down 110 over two years at Pensacola (Fla.) JC and appeared to regain his shooting touch (3-for-5 on treys) against Chaminade after some early jitters.

Nitoto and Parghalava also bring pesky on-ball defense to the table, an aspect not overlooked by Nash and Ganot, who works with the guards.

“;Point guards have to be able to run our offense, and disrupt the other team's guards from running theirs,”; Ganot said.

Lutu averaged 18.5 points and 4.3 assists his senior season at Mercer Island High (Wash.). He impressed the coaches in the team's first exhibition against Hilo and figures to earn decent minutes, especially while Thompson recovers from a pulled hamstring. The coaches have asked Lutu not to think of himself as a freshman.

“;It's good to get back into the point guard groove,”; said Lutu. “;It's been a couple of years since I just played the 1, been kind of bouncing back and forth since high school. I always loved playing point guard. Just gotta get my handle back and the point guard mentality back.”;

While Lutu has the makings of a special player, the coaches are anxious to put Thompson and his cerebral court vision to work again after the sophomore missed the last two seasons on an LDS mission, and much of the preseason with injuries.

“;I've always been a pure point growing up. I love to pass, and create for others,”; said Thompson, who played behind Deonte Tatum in 2005-06. “;Right now I'm refreshing my memory. That's definitely a plus that I just don't jump into something, not knowing anything.”;


































No. NameHt.Wt.Class
0Kareem Nitoto6-2185Sophomore
Enters his second year in the program out of San Leandro High School (Calif.). ... Posted 2.9 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 10.8 minutes last year. ... Put in 13 points in lone start of career at UC Riverside. ... Posted six points, five assists and five steals in recent exhibition vs. Chaminade.
2Hiram Thompson6-2175Sophomore
Returns from 2005-06 campaign after serving a two-year LDS mission. ... Averaged 2.8 points and 1.4 assists in 10.9 minutes. ... Posted best game against Northwestern State with 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting and four assists.
3Gary Satterwhite Jr.6-3175Freshman
Walk-on out of Radford High comes off a redshirt season. ... Will miss significant time with torn cartilage in left (non-shooting) shoulder, is considering applying for medical hardship. ... A Star-Bulletin Fab 15 player as a senior for the Rams.



5 Lasha Parghalava 6-2 195 Junior
Transfer from Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College. ... Averaged 11.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists as a sophomore. ... Made 110 3-pointers over two years. ... Native of the Republic of Georgia. ... Played for his nation's 20-under national team. ... Led Florida Air Academy to the 3-A state championship in high school.
20 Leroy Lutu Jr. 6-3 200 Freshman
Son of former University High standout Leroy Lutu. ... Graduate of Mercer Island High (Wash.). ... Averaged 18.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists in leading his team to the league championship as a senior en route to MVP honors. ... Also earned all-league honors two years in football as a defensive back.