Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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After night of fun, it's back to business for UH hoops

By Brian McInnis


Jordan Coleman extended his long arms and swatted a 3-point attempt out of bounds. Soon afterward, the true freshman guard sniffed out one lazy pass for a steal, then another.

Coleman closed strong on the second day of Hawaii men's basketball full practices. With playing time up for grabs — from the top of the roster to the bottom — he figured he needed the redemption.

"The first day, I was in slow motion," said the 6-foot-4, 175-pound Calabasas High (Calif.) graduate. "I was doing high school stuff. It was a lot better from then until now."

New coach Gib Arnold doesn't plan to formulate a starting lineup anytime soon as his players, including 10 newcomers, prove themselves against one another. The Rainbow Warriors have time; they open against Chaminade in an exhibition on Nov. 6.

Arnold put the team through a controlled halfcourt scrimmage for the last segment of yesterday morning's practice. There was plenty of contact, and plenty of feedback from the coaches after a basket (or more commonly, a player lying on his backside).

"We're all teaching each other," Arnold said. "Everybody knows that if they're going to play, they've gotta play with unbelievable effort. And they've got to put the team first. And so that's what we're looking for, even though it's not always pretty. You can be ugly and do that."

It was a quick turnaround for the Rainbow Warriors from the team's UH Ohana Hoopfest the night before. In their version of midnight madness, the UH players and coaches entertained the Stan Sheriff Center crowd with separate hakas.

"We knew there was going to be a haka (from the coaches), but we didn't know it was going to be that intense," Coleman said. "But I liked theirs a lot better than ours. It was fun."

Then it was back to business.

Coleman figures his best chance to carve out some playing time is through perimeter defense. For sophomore forward Joston Thomas, a transfer from the College of Southern Idaho, it's by taking the ball hard to the basket.

"That's the only thing that matters, is to get better. You gotta outwork the competition," Thomas said.

Fellow Rainbows were more than willing to meet Thomas at the basket, frequently resulting in combinations of Thomas, Douglas Kurtz, Davis Rozitis and Vander Joaquim going sprawling to the hardwood.

"We need that. We need those bumps, we need those bangs," Thomas said. "We need the coaches to not call fouls. You get into situations like that from time to time."

Arnold intends to mix and match players on scrimmage squads every day to get them used to different positions and matchups. For example, Thomas will probably be used at small and power forward, and multiple point guards will likely be on the court at once.

The White team yesterday: point guards Hiram Thompson and Anthony Salter, shooting guards Coleman and Pi'i Minns, forwards Thomas and Trevor Wiseman and center Kurtz.

The Green team: point guard Bobby Miles, shooting guards Bo Barnes and Zane Johnson, forward Bill Amis and centers Joaquim and Rozitis.

"I'll set a starting group as soon as I know one," Arnold said. "I'm not opposed to having one right now; I don't have one right now simply because the newness of this team. There's a good chance at this time next year that I'll probably already have a feel of who's going to be where based upon this year. But it's too early with this team right now to say, 'OK, these guys are going to start for me. These guys are going to be in the rotation.' And even with that, even with my starting five philosophy, that can change game to game based upon matchups."

The only Rainbow out of action, sophomore forward Dominick Brumfield, is still rehabbing a knee injury that he suffered before his arrival in Hawaii. He looks close to a return to full contact.

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