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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, December 7, 2003

'Bows still battling for starting positions

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer


It will be an exhibition in more ways than one for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team today.

The Rainbow Warriors will play the EA Sports All-Stars at 4:05 p.m. in the Stan Sheriff Center. The result and statistics will not count.

However, the performances of each Hawai'i player will count in head coach Riley Wallace's mind. He said all five starting spots and the key reserve roles are still up for grabs, and all 12 players on the roster will get a chance to exhibit skills today.

"We're obviously going to come out and try to win it," Wallace said. "But I also want to give everybody a shot at playing time. It'll be a good chance for everybody on this team to show what they can do because we're still searching."

UH men's exhibition

WHEN: Today, 4:05 p.m.

OPPONENT: EA Sports All-Stars

WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center.


TICKET PRICES: $15 (lower-singles only); $11 (upper-adult); $5 (upper-students); $8 (Super Rooter)

The 'Bows are off to a 2-2 start this season. Today's exhibition was purposely scheduled for this week to bridge a 19-day gap between regular season games.

The 'Bows have not played since losing to Dayton in the championship game of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 26. Their next regular season game is scheduled for Dec. 15 against Oregon State.

"It seems like a long time since we played a game," said junior forward Vaidotas Peciukas. "So it's good just to be playing somebody again. It's a good chance to improve and get ready for the other games coming up."

Because of his plan to use every player on the roster, Wallace said he was not even sure which players would be in the starting lineup. In the first four games of this season, three different starting lineups have been used.

At least eight players have been rotating with the first team this week in practice.

"I think this game is important for everybody on the team," said senior center and co-captain Haim Shimonovich. "Nobody is really safe at any position, so you want to play your best to make sure you play when the games count."

Shimonovich may be the best example. In part because of a lingering Achilles injury, he has not started a game this season.

If he does regain the starting center position he held the past two seasons, it would create a shuffling throughout the rest of the lineup.

Peciukas, Phil Martin, Julian Sensley and Jeff Blackett are the top candidates to start at the two forward spots. Paul Jesinskis and Milos Zivanovic will join them in the battle for playing time off the bench.

"You want to be the one to secure a spot," Peciukas said. "But it's also important for everybody to improve so it will be good if coach plays everybody."

Jason Carter and Logan Lee will continue to share time at point guard.

Senior shooting guard Michael Kuebler, the team's leading scorer with 18.0 points per game, appears to be the most solid starter.

Jake Sottos and Bobby Nash are still trying to shoot their way into more playing time.

The EA Sports All-Stars will also take an empty-the-bench approach, but more out of necessity.

The All-Stars are expected to suit up only eight players, including former Hawai'i guards Mike McIntyre and Mark Campbell, and former Chaminade forward Leon Ballard. The other players are also former college players.

"We don't really know what they're going to do and they're all good players, so it could be a tough game," Shimonovich said. "They'll probably want to run a lot, so it might be better for us to use a lot of players."

What's more, the 'Bows have already lost a regular-season game to UC Santa Barbara at home this season. It was only their third loss in their last 41 games at the Stan Sheriff Center.

"Even if this one doesn't count, we can't give up another one at home," Shimonovich said.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8101.