Last nite, or early this morning, High Point, a school from the Big South Conference, led by eleven returning players and 5 starters, outlasted UH as the Rainbow Warriors could not hold on to a 9 point lead in the waning minutes. Two ill-advised threes early in the shot clock, along with 4 turnovers, led to a breakout run for High Point and the Championship of the Rainbow Classic. Hawaii's inexperience reared its ugly head in the last five minutes, while High Point held its composure and won going away.
It was another poor shooting nite for the Bows. Four starters combined for 3-27 from the field. That's right. I would guess it may have set a record for woeful shooting by a starting five. Hawaii shot 17% from three. If the three games are any indication, Hawaii is going to struggle from the field. Right now, there is no one player who can be counted on to score on any given nite.
On the other hand, Hawaii continued to play aggressive defense, had strong team rebounding, and showed an ability to slash to the hoop for lay-ups or fouls. Those fouls might not be called as often once the team does on the road, but it works at home.
I thought the two " big guys" played well last nite, at least in spurts. Thomas had 14 points ( almost all in the first half) and Jovanovic did a credible job guarding John Brown, the Big South Pre-season Player of the Year. But once again, the lack of depth upfront was evident ( that will change as Reyes is expected back this week). Also the aggressive defense by the guards. caused both Bobbitt and Fleming to foul out.
For a midnite game, the crowd was exceptional. The students occupied mid court and were rowdy, loud, and organized. It gave the Arena the feel of really big-time college basketball. And for 35 minutes, they were treated to a spirited performance marred by a total breakdown down the stretch. With time, more practice, and experience, hopefully better decisions will be made in tight ball-games ( we saw some of that Saturday nite).
So its hard to be disappointed by the loss. The new-look Bows won 2 games and were in the third game until late. They played aggressive and exciting basketball ( maybe a little too exciting), and should win the remaining non-league home games outside of the Diamond Head. Tomorrow's they should regroup against little brother, UH Hilo, and then meet the big bad Pitt Panthers from the ACC coached by former Hawaii assistant, Jamie Dixon, on Maui. Then its on the road to Florida for a three game tournament against mid level competition.
By the time they return in several weeks, we will know much more about this team's ability to compete in the Conference. There is much to be happy about, but there are issues that need to be addressed if the team is to have a realistic chance to finish in the middle of the Conference. One thing is for sure. They will not be boring. Benjy has them flying all over the court. Now if they could only make shots