2007-08 Hawaii Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #115
Conference Rank: #5 WAC
2006-07: 18-13, 8-8, 5th (t)
2006-07 postseason: none
Nobody is going to care about basketball in Hawaii until after the BCS Bowl games…or the Hawaii Bowl…depending on who you believe. And for a couple months in there before the state goes into Colt Brennan NFL Draft mode, there will be a little interest in the basketball team. And it may take until January for the Warriors to reach their full potential. Hawaii will need time to acclimate some newcomers who are hoped to at least fill in for the team off the bench.
Losing out on the team’s top two scorers will set back the underachieving Warriors. Guard Matt Lojeski led the team with 16.9 points, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals. Big man Ahmet Gueye developed into a solid scorer in the paint and his 12.1 points and 8.4 rebounds will be greatly missed. Little used John Wilder is the only other player that has run out of eligibility, but a couple of transfers hurt the overall depth. Dominic Waters was one of the best guards off the bench last year and will transfer to Portland State and Todd Lowenthal never quite reached his full potential on the Islands.
The most important newcomer is junior college transfer Paul Campbell. The 6-10 power forward will be asked to immediately provide another big body to the thin Hawaii front line. Campbell did not score much during his only year at the juco level, averaging just 3.4 points per game, but he will get on the glass and work hard in the paint. Adhar Mayen, another junior college transfer, is a good athlete and can play either forward position. Conrad Fitzgerald will add another athletic wing to the up-tempo style of play that Hawaii will employ. Fitzgerald is a great scorer and with a little more shooting consistency will be a solid player for the Warriors. The defense alone of combo guard Kareem Nitoto should get him some quality minutes as a freshman. The 6-3 San Leandro, California product is quick and can get to the basket off the dribble. Walk-ons Beau Albrechtson and Gary Satterwhite will provide emergency depth to the backcourt.
Who to Watch:
The returning talent is on the perimeter and Matt Gibson, Bobby Nash and Riley Luettgerodt will all need to help replace the production of the departed Lojeski. Gibson and Nash are both decent long range shooters and will take the majority of the shots from beyond the arc for the Warriors. After averaging over ten points a piece last year, Nash and Gibson are expected to have even better senior campaigns. Luettgerodt only started one game last year, but occasionally put up some big scoring numbers. He is not the greatest shooter in the world as his 17 percent shooting percentage from long range would indicate, but he is an effective slasher. As long as the 6-5 wing can help out in the rebounding department a little more, Luettgerodt will be an effective player.
P.J. Owsley and Stephen Verwers did not put up great numbers during their first seasons suiting up for Hawaii, but now with Gueye gone both have the potential to see a drastic production increase. Owsley, a senior who spent two years at the junior college level, is the best option to develop into a quality scorer in the post. Verwers spent two years at Colorado State and was never much of a scorer. The 6-11 senior, who started eight games last year, is a decent rebounder and a nice defensive presence under the basket. The frontcourt will need to get some help from newcomer Campebell or little used returnee Todd Follmer. Without a scoring threat under the basket, the entire offense could be stagnant and Hawaii may be done well before the islands start paying attention.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Matt Gibson, Senior, Guard, 10.2 points per game
Bobby Nash, Senior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Riley Luettgerodt, Senior, Forward, 6.2 points per game
P.J. Owsley, Senior, Forward, 6.0 points per game
Stephen Verwers, Senior, Forward, 2.8 points per game