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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Savovic looking to rebound this week

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Predrag Savovic, his coach and his teammates all feel the UH senior will improve on his shooting starting tomorrow.

Deborah Booker The Honolulu Advertiser

I am Savo and I am human.

That's more or less how Predrag Savovic is feeling this week as he and the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team prepare for the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.

The Rainbow Warriors will play Portland tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in a first-round game of the eight-team tournament.

Savovic has spent the last few days recovering — from both a cold and one of his worst performances in his three seasons at UH.

"It's frustrating, sure," the 6-foot-6 senior guard said. "But it'll get better. I know it will."

Savovic sat out the first seven games of the season as an NCAA-issued penalty for his past participation with professionals in Europe prior to arriving in the United States.

In his season debut against San Diego State Friday, Savovic made just 2 of 13 shots, and finished with 12 points.

"Maybe I was too excited, I don't know," said Savovic, who led the 'Bows with 17.6 points per game last season, when he was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection. "I've played much worse games than that before and come back, so I'm not worried."

Neither is coach Riley Wallace, who expects Savovic to return to form this week.

"He'll be fine," Wallace said. "He's had more time with (the first team) this week, so I think he'll be more comfortable."

Based on recent history, Savovic has always found a comfort zone in the Rainbow Classic. As a sophomore, he was named the Most Outstanding Player as UH won the championship. Last year, he made the all-tournament team again as the 'Bows placed second to nationally ranked Tennessee.

No player in the 37-year history of the Rainbow Classic has made the all-tournament team three times.

"It's a beautiful thing to win the championship," Savovic said. "That's all I want."

If the 'Bows are to find success, they will also need to find their shooting touch.

Dating to the second half of the Northwestern State game Nov. 27, the 'Bows have made just one of their last 22 3-point shots. The only successful one was made by Savovic late in the San Diego State game.

"They'll start falling," Wallace said. "It's like free-throw shooting and anything else. Once you get hot, then it's over with."

With its recent cold streak, Hawai'i is shooting less than 30 percent (30-for-101) from 3-point range for the season.

Yesterday, three of UH's best shooters — Savovic, Carl English and Mike McIntyre — stayed after practice to work on long-range shooting.

"Nothing's wrong," Savovic insisted. "You can see we make the shots in practice. We just had a bad game as a team and now we have to have a good game."

Teammates are also expecting Savovic to bounce back this week.

"Savo is Savo, and we count on him," said fellow senior captain Mindaugas Burneika. "He takes some crazy shots, but he also makes some crazy shots."

• • •

  • WHAT: Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.
  • WHEN: Tomorrow-Saturday.
  • WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center.
  • SCHEDULE: Tomorrow—Iona vs. Holy Cross, 5 p.m.; Hawai'i vs. Portland, 7:30 p.m. Thursday—Boston College vs. Miami (Ohio), 5 p.m.; Georgia vs. Arkansas State, 7:30 p.m. Friday—Consolation games at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m.; semifinals at 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Saturday—Seventh place, 11 a.m.; fifth, 1:30 p.m.; third, 5; championship, 7:30 p.m.
  • TICKETS: Individual tickets available on day of game; $16 lower level (single seats only); $12 upper level (adult). Ticket packages, $68 lower level; $52 upper level.
  • PARKING: $3.