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Amis returns to practice

Arnold hopes to get the forward on the court for Friday's game

By Brian McInnis

LAST UPDATED: 3:39 a.m. HST, Dec 14, 2010

Bill Amis is back, and he's staying classy, Hawaii.

Sporting a Ron Burgundy-esque beard from "Anchorman," the Rainbow Warriors senior forward practiced yesterday for the first time since a stress fracture in his right foot forced him to the sidelines nearly a month ago.

The versatile Amis wasn't tested to his limits yesterday, as the Rainbows' session was relatively short on the first day of finals week leading up to Friday's game on Maui against Chicago State. But it was still more than enough for the tri-captain to work up a sweat to go with his new look.

Will Ferrell's Burgundy grew out an unkempt beard while wandering the streets of San Diego, jobless. But Amis kept it together much better while he was out of work, cheering on his teammates during practices.

"The facial hair's going to stay," Amis said definitively. "It might make a little variation. I have something in the works for the Diamond Head Classic. So stay tuned for that."

Pressed for details on his project, grown since his last game against Central Arkansas on Nov. 19, the tri-captain laughed.

"It's going to be classy. It's going to be classy. You can print that," he said.

In the postgame of UH's 72-50 win over HPU on Saturday, UH coach Gib Arnold said he hoped Amis would play at least a few minutes against the Cougars at the Lahaina Civic Center on Maui. Amis, who posted team-best averages of 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds through the first four games of the season, is open to the idea, though the priority is getting him back for the start of Western Athletic Conference play on Dec. 29.

"I've been out for a little while, but it was fun (today)," Amis said. "Just exciting to be back out there, really. ... (Getting my legs back is) something that's going to come back over the next couple weeks. Getting timing down. I feel fine, it's just a rhythm you have to develop with guys and with your body."

UH (6-2) is 4-0 with the 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward and 2-2 without him.

If Amis is available against CSU, the UH active player count jumps from nine to 10. That in itself was an important boost to the team's spirits yesterday.

"We gained one," said sophomore forward Joston Thomas, referring to the two reserve guards, Anthony Salter and Jordan Coleman, who left the team last week because of low playing time. "That's a big gain for us. So of course that's going to be a good feeling as a team."

The 6-foot-7 Thomas slid over to power forward in Amis' absence. He didn't see a difference in Amis' play before and after the injury.

"He's still in the same place from when he left," Thomas said. "Ain't nothing different. We're pretty confident that he's going to step in the game and still know what he gotta do."

Starting center Vander Joaquim has played well with Amis out and leads the team in total rebounds. He was in a happy mood yesterday, though it was unclear if it was connected to Amis' beard.

"I noticed the difference (not having him)," Joaquim said. "He's a good scorer, he (will) help us a lot in points and rebounds. ... It's just good to have him back."

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