by Gary Dickman
There’s an old Christmas song called It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. For me, the most wonderful time of the year also includes the beginning of the college basketball season. Which is this week. And I think UH fans should be really excited about our UH men’s basketball team as they start the 2019-20 season. I know last year could have ended better, without a tough first-round exit in the Big West tournament. But there’s a lot of talent coming back, some new talent coming in and a lot of reason for optimism.
Let’s start with junior point guard Drew Buggs. Buggs led the Big West in assists last year, and had the best assist-to-turnover ratio. He stayed in Hawaii all summer, working on his jump shot, and you will notice his improvement as the season starts. 6’9 forward Zigmars Raimo is back for his senior year, and he returns stronger than ever. Zig has moved back to the 4, or power forward spot. (Last year he played mostly the 5, or center spot.) The 4 is a better fit for Raimo and the team. Shooting guard Eddie Stansberry is back for his senior year; he’s worked more on his 3-point shot, and I can see from the practices I’ve been to that will be more consistent than last season. Local fave Samuta Avea, comes back much stronger than last year, and has worked on his jump shot as well.
For the Rainbow Warriors to have more success, their trio of 7-footers need to take that next step of improving as sophomores. I see Dawson Carper starting at the center. Mate Covina has worked on his 3-point shot. Hopefully Owen Hulland can stay healthy, which has been his biggest problem so far.
The newcomers to watch, I feel, are freshman Justin Webster, a combo guard who has a very smooth, accurate jump shot. I see the talent in fFreshman Bernardo DeSilva, a 6’9 big who will get stronger and be a force down low.
Two local point guards will start their UH careers this season, and will both contribute. PG Jessiya Villa from Kahuku and Kameron Ng, both former state players of the year.
UH will celebrate their 100th season of basketball this season. There will be a lot of great tributes with former players returning, so I hope the fans can witness the team in person as they strive to make the postseason again. After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.
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