By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Nicknames, like nail-biting victories and untimely injuries, are in with the University of Hawaii mens basketball team this season.
Every player has one, and every player needs one.
If they went purely by first names, there would be a Nerijus, a Predrag and a Mindaugas. Too difficult.
If they went only by last names, there would be a Savovic, a Radovic, and a Shimonovic. Too confusing.
It doesnt help that many of the players on the active roster remain relative no-names more than halfway into this season. But according to senior Troy Ostler, no player goes unrecognized in the nickname department.
"Were all pretty good friends, and when youre good friends, you dont call each other by their real name," said Ostler, the recognized leader of designating nicknames.
Even walk-on Lance Takaki has one. "Its pretty much one of the standards to be on this team," he said.
And so there is a "Spider" and a "Web," although the two are not even remotely related. There are some nicknames that are fitting; others that make absolutely no sense. Some players have more than one.
The Rainbows, who are 8-8 overall and 2-3 in the Western Athletic Conference, will play at Rice tomorrow, then at Tulsa on Sunday.
They return home to play Fresno State on Feb. 1.
1-C, Mindaugas "Bruce" Burneika: Burneika, like all foreign players on the team, has been given a randomly selected American name by teammates.
2-E, Carl "Newf" English: English is from Newfoundland, Canada.
3-I, Todd "Billy" Fields: Fields got his nickname from assistant coach Jackson Wheeler, mostly because Fields attended St. Catharine College in Kentucky before enrolling at UH. "He thinks Im a hillbilly," Fields said.
4-B, David "Web" Hilton: While Hiltons more common nickname is "Jeep," teammates have labeled him "Web" for his resemblance to the pint-sized Webster character on the 80s television sitcom.
5-L, Ryne "Rhino" Holliday: Hollidays nickname is a play off his first name, though his hard-charging style of basketball for the scout team justifies it.
6-J, Phil "Big Smooth" Martin: Martins nickname is mostly self-proclaimed in reference to his easygoing demeanor on and off the court.
7-D, Mike "Mac" McIntyre: McIntyres nickname is a play off his last name.
8-M, Lane "Lon" O'Connor: As legend has it, OConnor once put in an order at the school cafeteria under the name "Lane." When his food was ready for pick-up, a cafeteria employee yelled out in front of teammates, no less for "Lonnie."
9-A, Troy "Spider" Ostler: Ostler was labeled "Spider" last season by assistant coach Scott Rigot. "Hes got those long arms and loping legs, just like a Daddy Long Legs spider," Rigot said.
10-G, Nerijus "Gerald" Puida: Puidas nonsensical nickname goes one step further. "One day they told me I was Gerald, but I could pick my own last name. So, actually, I am Gerald Adams."
11-F, Predrag "Speedo" Savovic: Savovic is better known as "Savo" to fans, but teammates have started calling him "Speedo" in reference to his nonstop pace on the court.
12-K, Haim "Scott" Shimonovic: When asked why teammates call him "Scott," Shimonovic replied, "I dont know. I dont want to know."
13-N, Lance "Taco" Takaki: On his first trip to El Paso, Texas, last season, Takaki tried "real" Mexican food for the first time. It also became his last. "I ate one tortilla chip with sauce on it and thats all I could take," he said. "After that, they started calling me Taco because I dont like Mexican food."
14-H, Ricky "Roos" Terrell: Terrells hair was dyed red while he was at Santa Monica College, and so teammates labeled him "Roos," short for Rooster.
As for head coach Riley Wallace, the Rainbows say they dont have an official nickname for him yet.
"Oh, we call him names almost every day at practice," said Ostler. "But I wouldnt say those are nicknames."
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