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The Two-Headed Monster

At 7 feet and 265 pounds, Douglas Kurtz is quite an imposing figure for the Hawaii basketball team. At 6-10 and 245 pounds, Vander Joaquim is a pretty big presence himself.

Put them together?

“That’s our two-headed monster,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “I look at them as sharing the (center) position, so I tend to look at both of their numbers together.”

Lately, Kurtz and Joaquim have been combining for monster games. In Hawaii’s last victory, a 72-50 win over Hawaii Pacific, they combined for 18 points and 14 rebounds. In the game before that (a 78-57 loss to nationally-ranked Brigham Young), they combined for 15 points and 15 rebounds.

“We basically have the same game,” Kurtz said. “Once we’re in (the game), we’re just trying to help the team.”

Joaquim usually starts the game at the center position, then rotates in and out with Kurtz.

“If I’m in foul trouble, he’s gonna step up,” Joaquim said. “If he’s in foul trouble, I’m gonna step up.”

The plan has worked so far. Joaquim, a sophomore who is in his first season at Hawaii, is averaging 5.6 points per game and ranks second on the team in rebounding with 6.5 per game, and field goal percentage at .600. In the last four games – with leading scorer and rebounder Bill Amis sidelined with a foot injury – Joaquim averaged 8.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Kurtz is averaging 2.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, which is an upgrade from last season, when he saw limited action as a reserve for the Warriors. He grabbed 22 rebounds all of last season, and already has 29 through eight games this season. His sheer size has also been a valuable asset as an anchor on defense and an immovable screener on offense.

They say battling each other in practice has prepared them well for games.

“We call it, we play UFC, because we go hard,” Kurtz said.

Joaquim added: “He’s almost as big as Shaq, so it’s hard to front him. Really hard.”

It helps that both speak Portuguese. Kurtz is from Brazil, and Joaquim is from Angola. Portuguese is the official language of both countries.

“It’s not that we don’t want our teammates to know what we are saying,” Kurtz said. “Portuguese is easier for both of us, so that’s how we talk to each other.”

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