Martin's fit to carry Rainbows
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Columnist
|Phil Martin is the only four-year starter in Riley Wallace's 17 years as UH coach.
Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser
In a year in which the basketball team had already suffered two defections to football, here was Martin running laps around Cooke Field and working out with a vengeance in the weight room here, even as football players were preparing for two-a-days.
Noteworthy activity indeed for Martin who, over three previous summers, had been the reverse snowbird, always returning home to Hamilton, Ontario, on the first flight out to see his family and friends.
But it turns out that Martin's summer routine, far from being a harbinger of potential additional disappointment for the basketball team, might be one of its most hopeful signs for this Rainbow Warrior team.
It underlines, for example, how seriously the laid back power forward has taken the mantle of leadership. It suggests his acceptance of the responsibility that comes with being the senior member of the team in terms of experience.
When the Warriors open their season a week from tomorrow with an exhibition game against Brigham Young University-Hawai'i, Martin will be the first player to start all four years in head coach Riley Wallace's 17-year reign, no small accomplishment on several fronts.
The time spent going on five years now including a redshirt season in 1999-'00 has given Martin a sense of proprietary interest in the program that he has come to call home. A couple of championship rings and three consecutive postseason appearances give him a feeling of investment in perpetuating what the Rainbow Warriors have had going.
With the title of co-captain along with Haim Shimonovich, "it kinda feels like my team, and I know Haim feels the same way," Martin says. "I feel like it is my time to put it out there and step up on the floor. I need to let the team kind of get up on my shoulders at times."
After years of relying upon Predrag Savovic and Carl English, the Warriors don't need him to step into their adidas as a shooter as much as give them some of the same kind of consistency and leadership.
We glimpsed some of what he might be capable of on the first half of the equation down the stretch last season, where Martin averaged 14.3 points a game over the final 12 games, a five-point hike over what he had been bringing to the box-score.
The second part of the deal, hoisting a team on his broad shoulders and firing it up with the force of personality and performance from time to time, figures to be tougher for the mild-mannered 6-feet-8, 220-pounder for whom smiles come much easier than scowls.
Yet, it is a role he pledges to do more to grow into. "From the time I got here, I've watched how the seniors have helped lift the team," Martin said. "I've seen what they can mean to the team."
Martin said, "I stayed here this summer and put a lot into my basketball skills and my school work so that I could make this a big year. My family and friends back home understood because they know what this season means to me. They know I want to go out with a bang."
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8044.