Rank: #5 WAC
17-11, 10-6, 4th (t)
Bobby Nash and Matt Gibson (that’s little Matt with a ‘b’) went
out early last year with injuries, it looked like
Hawaii was in
some trouble. That didn’t end up to be the case and Coach Riley
Wallace’s group of islanders had a splendid campaign. Despite
the loss of three starters, the return of Nash and Gibson will
help keep the Warriors on the top half of the WAC standings.
Starters Julian Sensley, Deonte Tatum and Matt Gipson (big Matt
with a ‘p’) have exhausted their eligibility. Sensley, the star
of the Rainbows, averaged a team high 17.6 points as a senior.
It will be an adjustment by the entire team to learn how to play
without him on the floor. Tatum provided leadership in the
backcourt, averaging 8.5 points and 3.6 assists. Big Matt
started all 28 games averaging 6.7 points and 5.6 boards. Chris
Botez was the first and last big man off the bench last year
and, despite not being a starter, his loss shouldn’t be taken
lightly. Botez was a presence on the court, especially the
defensive end where he averaged 1.4 blocks per game. Hiram
Thompson is heading on a mission and will miss this season after
appearing in 18 games as a freshman.
Lowenthal is generating the most buzz in Hawaii, mainly due to a
lack of other point guards; not that the 6-2 San Diego product
doesn’t have talent to go along with it. At Poway High School,
Lowenthal averaged 21.0 points, 6.3 assists and 8.0 rebounds.
Riley Luettgerodt will battle for minutes on the wing.
Luettgerodt is a tremendous scorer and averaged 26.7 points last
year at Chemeketa Community College in Oregon. Luettgerodt
could start right away. It won’t be easy to get those minutes
with Gibson and Nash returning, but he has enough talent to make
Coach Wallace’s decision quite difficult. A couple transfers
in Stephen Verwers from Colorado State and Jared Dillinger from
Air Force are expected to make a contribution. Verwers averaged
1.9 points and 2.0 rebounds as a part-time starter for the Rams
two years ago. The 6-10 forward will battle for a starting
spot. Dillinger, a 6-5 wing, saw limited minutes for the
Falcons and will hope to provide a spark off the bench.
Seven-footer Todd Follmer spent a season at Irvine Valley
College after redshirting for one season at UC Santa Barbara.
Without too many experienced options off the bench in the
frontcourt, fellow newcomers Alex Veit and P.J. Oswley will
battle for minutes.
Who to Watch:
Lojeski and Ahmet Gueye will combine to replace Sensley…and then
some. Lojeski, a 6-5 senior, averaged 13.6 points last season,
his first with the Rainbows. Lojeski will be the main long
range threat and averaged two three balls per game as a
junior. Gueye was another player who impressed after spending
some time at the juco level. Gueye averaged 12.2 points and a
team high 7.7 boards and 2.5 blocks and will once again dominate
options at point guard, but nobody is the clear cut favorite at
this juncture. Incoming freshman Lowenthal has the tools, but
is still a freshman. Sophomore Dominic Waters should get the
first shot at the job. Waters saw action in 20 games last year,
starting two and averaging just 8.6 minutes per contest. Waters
has the edge in experience right now, but I won’t be surprised
if Lowenthal sees a majority of the minutes before too long.
Sophomore, Guard, 2.9 points per game
Luettgerodt, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Senior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Senior, Forward, 12.2 points per game