Just Give The Darn Ball To Amis

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - February 02, 2011
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At the 10:30 mark in the first half of UH’s game against San Jose State, a fan sitting in or near the student section offered some sound advice: “Give Amis the ball.” The statement was made not with the lathering ridiculousness of fandom, but in a calm manner as if getting the ball to the 6-foot-9-inch senior was the only common sense thing to do.

The anonymous observer was rather akamai. Amis was insane. By that point he had five points, three rebounds, three blocks and had altered a few more shots. He got nastier from there.

Amis scored every way imaginable in and around the paint. At 2:46 he used his shoulder to clear some space then stepped back for a fall away jumper from 8 feet.

It’s a shot teammate Joston Thomas said he had grown tired of in practice.

“He killed me all summer doing that. I told him I hate that shot,” joked the spirited sophomore, who kicked in 14 points and an equal number of rebounds on a night coach Gib Arnold called the best of his college career.

At 1:28, again near the baseline, Amis spun left, then right and softly laid it in for two more as the suddenly out-of-position defender could do nothing but watch. By the time they got to the locker room, the Rainbow Warrior captain (one of three) had 11 points and added another rebound to lead his team to a 31-24 halftime lead.

It didn’t get much better for the competition after the break. At 13:21 of the second half he hit a 15-footer coming off a screen, picked up a foul and completed the three-point play. Aminute later he got San Jose’s Brylle Kamen to bite on an up fake, drove past him for a dunk and his 16th point of the night. His fourth block came just 23 seconds later. He even hacky sacked the ball to a fan in the second row with a look so nonchalant one would think he was bored of such repetition.

Since coming back from his 10-game layoff after suffering a foot injury and a three-game reconditioning period, Amis has been sick. He scored 22 points and 10 boards against Louisiana Tech, and went 11 and 10 against Fresno before his 20 points, on nine of 11 shooting, nine rebounds and four blocks against the Spartans.

While Hiram Thompson sets the table and Zane Johnson stretches the defense, Amis is the figurative center around which the team’s success will be determined.

Amis has excelled in his senior season, showing an array of weapons that haven’t been seen by a UH big man in quite some time. He’s always had a soft touch from around 10 feet, and has been a good rebounder and shot blocker, but this year there has been something different, he’s a bit meaner, tougher. He’s developed a drop step, a two-directional spin move and has learned to use his shoulder and hips to clear space to free himself for layups and dunks from the paint.

“I need him to be mean. He’s such a nice guy, which is great except for Thursday and Saturday nights when I want him to be kind of nasty,” said Arnold.

At the end of the San Jose State game, Amis was tied with Johnson for the team lead in scoring, led in rebounding average and was second in blocks (19) while playing in half the number of games as co-leaders Thomas and center Vander Joaquim.

Amis is once again the guy his teammates look for when a defensive stand is needed or a scoring drought ended. More important, he is the calm leader of a team that can lose its focus at times and one, he says, is closer than any he has played on.

Yet another positive impact for the Oklahoma native.

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