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Rainbows hope 3 points better than 2

By Brian McInnis


Gib Arnold has a three-pronged point to make.

Perhaps the most striking difference between the 2012-13 Hawaii men’s basketball team and the 16-16 Rainbow Warriors of a season ago comes at point guard. It’s a notion underscored every day at team practices as UH prepares for its exhibition on Friday vs. Hawaii Pacific.

Gone are pass-first Miah Ostrowski and shoot-first Shaquille Stokes. In their places are a veteran who’s sat out game action for the past season and a half, a defensive stopper and convert to the position, and a marksman who’s also a wide-eyed freshman.

That’s Jace Tavita, Garrett Jefferson, and Manroop Clair, respectively. Tavita, a senior, has a firm grasp on the starting job. Jefferson and Clair have split time as the backups.

“You’ve got a couple guys there who the position’s a little new for them, said Arnold, the third-year UH coach. “Jace has played it the most. All three of them have done a pretty good job. I think we’re going to be all right there. Guys are giving a heck of a job, heck of an effort.”

At 6 feet 4, Tavita is a larger point guard. He started four games as a freshman for the Utes and 19 as a sophomore before transferring to UH five games into the 2010-11 season.

The Salt Lake City native has sat out since then as a redshirt — he was the ’Bows’ scout team point guard — but has assumed the role of a tri-captain now that he’s eligible to play in games. During the team’s bonding retreat to Molokai over the weekend, he laid out some lofty goals.

“We had a team meeting where we set up goals. … Goals that we have for the season,” Tavita said. “Like protecting our home floor; we want to win all of our games here in Hawaii. We want to compete to win the conference championship. We’d like to make the NCAA Tournament.”

Jefferson and Clair have never been traditional point guards and are trying to learn the ropes. Arnold is counting on Jefferson’s defense against the more talented opposing point guards and Clair’s 3-point shooting against zone defenses.

“They each have strengths, and we’re trying to play to their strengths when they’re in there,” Arnold said.

Arnold asked Jefferson, last season’s top wing defender, to start running the point about a week before the start of full practices. Communication among the point guards has helped the process.

“I tried to take it in stride,” the 6-3 Jefferson said. “Jace just tells me to take care of the ball. As long as you’re not throwing it away and you’re making the right passes, you’ll be fine. A point guard’s job is to make sure everybody else is getting shots and to control the tempo of the game.

“When he puts me in, I’ll be ready to run the point for the team.”

Clair, a freshman from British Columbia, has been a scoring guard his whole career, prep school on down. He’s learning, both through occasional successes and more-than-occasional tongue-lashings from the UH coaches, how to distribute the ball.

“I knew I was going to be a point guard when I came in,” Clair said. “ It’s just hard transitioning right now … but I’m getting better at it.”

San Jose State transfer Keith Shamburger — who is redshirting this year — and Kamehameha graduate Dyrbe Enos run the point for the scout team.

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Pocho wrote:
Great hearing Manroop's take on his transition as a pg, he knew coming in and is working at it. I hope he understands the coaches yelling doesn't mean hate but love! Don't take it personally but knowing that coaches like a parent wanting his child to be the best he can be, maybe the coaches could tone the yelling down a bit but then again it doesn't matter. As a player, you have to know that the coaches are watching you and wanting to correct your errors and not throwing you under the bus as a loss.
on October 31,2012 | 06:18AM
protector wrote:
They're only talking about the Point Guard position. I don't understand why they don't leave Manroop at the 2 position, where he's comfortable. They should pull that Aussie walk-on guard (Michael Harper?) for a back-up Point. Good ball-handler, pushes the ball up, good shooter and passes unselfishly unlike Brandon Spearman who's just another talented "ball-hog" who's a veritable 'black-hole' once you pass the ball to him. The coaches will have to work hard to rein him in to incorporate the team-work aspect. I think he visualizes himself as a one-on-one player. He blew at least 2 dunks that I saw. Have my doubts about him as the rest of the prospective players were all unselfish team-oriented types. I was impressed with what I saw of Tavita in 2 consecutive Summer Leagues and thought he was very solid; he'll be great. I was very disappointed that I didn't get to see Manroop or Brandon Jawato in action though.
on October 31,2012 | 11:14AM
BTO wrote:
Good to know we have experience at the qb position. I like to see Garret (hops) Jefferson to be a Michael Thompson, Tim Dunham type player who can slash to the basket or do the Carolina backdoor or be the lead in transition and slam it. He may need to penetrate and create or set up Hauns for the trey.
on October 31,2012 | 12:51PM
Hiroaki23 wrote:
Jefferson a PG, what a joke! He needs to remain on the wing to utilize his strengths as a slasher and shut-down defender. Tavita will be the real deal until Miah can miraculously get another year to run the team, slide Tavita to the 2 with Hans at the 3.
on October 31,2012 | 03:09PM
NotNasti wrote:
Uhh, Miah's not getting another season. That appeal came and went.
on October 31,2012 | 03:27PM
PCWarrior wrote:
I dunno man. Heard from someone who saw a UH scrimmage that this team does not look like a DI team. Of course Standhardinger and Joaquim was not playing in the scrimmage and they are the two best guys. We certainly have a junior varsity schedule this year. Hope hoops is better than the yikeity yike "football" team.
on October 31,2012 | 05:10PM
eagleHI wrote:
THIS TEAM PROBABLY HAS MORE D-1 TALENT than most UH TEAMS FOR 25 years...and deeper (although 11 through 16 might not start proving it until one or two years).... 'Roop Needs to Learn the Point --he HAS the Best Handles -- HAS All the Skills of a Point BUT NOT the Pass First Mentality -- a liability hat comes with being counted on to score up to 30 ppg and being The Best Shooter on every team he's been on 'til now (Ozi)... ASCoach Gib explains it Most People "forget" (or never understood) theDefensive aspect of the point guard position, so a team with a potentially dominant or "key x-factor" for his team being totally disrupted, disabling
on October 31,2012 | 08:32PM
eagleHI wrote:
......could be taken completely out of their game by a Garrett Jefferson...
on October 31,2012 | 08:35PM