Coach: Hur­ri­canes Look­ing Tall And Able For 2013-14 Hoops

MidWeek Islander (West Oahu) - - West Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

With back-to-back OIA Red West ti­tles over the past two sea­sons, Kapolei of­fi­cially en­tered the high­rent dis­trict of Oahu boys bas­ket­ball.

With the pro­gram now es­tab­lished, the Hur­ri­canes pre­fer to look at the 201314 sea­son as one for re­group­ing rather than re­build­ing, as all five starters de­parted from last year’s team. But while fa­mil­iar faces have de­parted, size won’t be an is­sue, ac­cord­ing to long­time head coach Gary El­li­son.

“I think what ex­cites me the most is that they’re tall,” said El­li­son whose teams have gone 26-7 over the past two years in ad­di­tion to earn­ing a pair of trips to the state tour­na­ment. “I don’t think we ever had a team this tall. They’re ath­letic and quick, al­though not as fast (as past teams).”

The team also has some bulk to go with its height, most no­tably se­nior center Micah Kapoi, who was a stand­out for the foot­ball team in the fall. Pack­ing 295 pounds into a 6-foot5 inch frame, Kapoi was a re­serve last year, but will move into the start­ing center spot.

“He’s a big body down there,” El­li­son said. “He brings tough­ness, and the boys re­spect him. He’s a good leader. They lis­ten to what he has to say. On the court, he does all of the lit­tle things cor­rectly. He blocks out, he re­bounds, and he gets put backs. He’s been with us since his sopho­more year, so he knows our sys­tem. He can help the other kids on the court.”

While Kapoi will be the an­chor in the post, fresh faces will likely make up the back­court. Among the stand­outs who com­pleted their el­i­gi­bil­ity was OIA Red West Player of the Year Cur­tis Tavares.

“A lot of our kids are new to the pro­gram and are still try­ing to get to know each other,” El­li­son said. “A con­cern right now is get­ting the kids to un­der­stand what we’re try­ing to do and learn to play to­gether. Pre­sea­son will be huge for us — not as far as win­ning or los­ing — but so we learn and im­prove.”

Even with the two solid sea­sons be­hind them, El­li­son was quick to stress that the cur­rent Hur­ri­canes def­i­nitely are work­ing off of a clean slate. “It helps, but I think they have to re­al­ize they don’t have to try to live up to that. That’s in the past. We need to fo­cus on play­ing one game at a time. This is a new team and a new sea­son. We’ll fig­ure things out as we go and work as we go.

“I don’t think they re­al­ize the tal­ent that we have.”

De­fense has been Kapolei’s forte in the El­li­son era, and that doesn’t fig­ure to change this year, ac­cord­ing to the coach. “We’ll be a de­fen­sive­minded team — we’ll re­ally fo­cus on our de­fense.”

Kapolei con­tin­ues its pre­sea­son on Thurs­day through Satur­day at the McKin­ley Tour­na­ment. It meets Univer­sity High at 6: 30 p. m. Thurs­day to open the event. On Fri­day, Kapolei plays de­fend­ing Di­vi­sion I state tour­na­ment run­ner-up Mary­knoll at 7 p. m., with a match- up against Saint Louis set for 1 p.m. Satur­day. Kapolei’s OIA-opener is Jan. 2 at home against Wa­ialua.

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