Wednesday, November 25, 2015         

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For Standhardinger, it's always go time

By Brian McInnis


Normalcy is all a matter of perspective for Christian Standhardinger.

The Hawaii junior forward, ever a blur of energy and motion, has a hard time comprehending the sedate world around him.

Sedate by his hyperactive standards, anyway.

"I don't even understand why everybody else is not like that," he said. "I don't. You just run. It's not that big of a deal. If you want to run, you just run. You (want to) go hard, you go hard."

Standhardinger, a 6-foot-8 native of Munich, Germany, has stood up and and gone hard at power forward, and recently at small forward as UH has experimented more recently with bigger lineups. He's averaging team bests of 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game and has a team-best four double-doubles on the season.

He'll go for five on Saturday when UH (5-3) takes on Miami (7-1) in the ESPNU-televised first round of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Standhardinger and his teammates in the frontcourt have a tall order awaiting. Miami's starting big men, 6-10, 292-pound Reggie Johnson and 6-11, 242-pound Kenny Kadji, are both huge and skilled. But if there's something to know about Standhardinger besides his energy, it's that he's always up for a challenge.

He was always that way.

When Standhardinger was a child, his mother, Elizabeth, had him play soccer to burn off the excess energy. It was only a temporary solution for a kid taller than everyone else.

When he was 11, he flew to Los Angeles to stay with his grandfather, Pablo Hermoso, a former hoops player in the Philippines, his mother's homeland. That's when Christian started to learn how to fine-tune his internal motor.

Pablo would stand in the paint and have Christian attempt right-handed layup after right-handed layup. A basic, fundamental concept, but one that served him well when he returned to Munich and was a step ahead of the other 12-year-olds.

Basketball gave him an outlet, and he eagerly signed up for as many club teams as he could. It gave him an identity, too, beyond just being the only half-German, half-Filipino kid on the block.

"I was struggling a little bit in the early times, "Standhardinger said. "Since you were like the only Asian in there. You do struggle a little bit. Kids can be cruel. But I'm glad I grew up with my sisters (volleyball-playing twins Kristin and Kathrin) and my mom, which helped me a lot. I think that's why I'm so competitive."

He knows only one speed. Whether it's wrestling with teammates at a practice, getting a technical foul at a Manoa summer league game, or avenging a loss to Hauns Brereton at UH's preseason "King of the Beach" fitness competition, there's no letting up.

Standhardinger came back to the states in 2009, when he signed on to play for Doc Sadler at Nebraska. By then, he already had experience with the German Junior National Team.

But he disliked the Cornhuskers' slow-it-down offense almost immediately, and clashed with the coaching staff regularly.

He requested and was given his release from Nebraska six games into his second season of 2010-11. He'd averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 boards in 17.7 minutes per game that year, primarily at center.

Then-UH associate head coach Walter Roese, a former 'Huskers assistant, convinced him to come to Hawaii.

Roese moved on before he arrived, but UH coach Gib Arnold stepped forward to cement the deal by promising plenty of opportunities in transition.

That's where Standhardinger's skill-set shines, as he can dribble upcourt himself and use his quickness to blow by plodding defenders of similar height.

Though not an exceptional leaper, he has a nose for the ball and is a solid rebounder at both ends.

"Some days shots don't fall in. Even some days, those damn rebounds don't fall in your hands," he said. "You're right there and bing, it's on the other side. There's nothing you can do. But you can always play defense and run the floor back. Run to every rebound or post up every time. That's in your control."

When things aren't going right, he's quick to make his expressive voice — in distinctive German accent — heard on just about anything.

"I like guys with passion. I'd rather tell a guy to calm down than have to build them up," Arnold said. "And we haven't. He's adapted well to our system, and like any two competitive guys, we'll go head to head. But he knows we've got his best interest in mind, and he trusts us, and I think that's why he's having the season that he is."

He's got the face-up game down, including the occasional step-out 3-pointer, but isn't yet comfortable with his back to the basket.

Assistant coach Scott Fisher thinks developing a fadeaway and a hook shot are the keys for Standhardinger to maximize his potential as an eventual pro. He's already got the drive for the next level, both on the dribble and in respect to internal motivation.

"There's probably only a handful of guys that I can think of in my 30 years at this level or above, that have that motor for as often as he does, both in practice and in games," Fisher said, adding that he feels Standhardinger is the team's best all-around defender.

While redshirting last season as a Division I transfer, Standhardinger drove the Rainbow Warriors' first team batty in practices with his relentless style — especially when the scout team called for a deliberate pace.

"We all hated going against Christian on the scout team," senior wing Hauns Brereton said. "Because whenever it was important for us to make a stop, he'd figure out a way to make us mess up. And Coach would get on us. So he was a nightmare on scout team. But (now) he's a nightmare for other teams who are guarding him."

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