By Jeff Portnoy
well, a three point win and an exciting 2 point win have the Rainbow Warriors tied for first place after the first two Conference games of the season. After Northridge lost at home to a poor Riverside team, that win doesnt seem so significant. But the last second win against Fullerton was one the Bows had to have.
As i have been writing all along, The Big West is a league dominated by small guards. Hawaii strength is and remains its frontcourt which towers over their Big West compeition. So for every turnover Hawaii has, for every steal, and for every point after tuurnover the opposition continues to create, Hawaii needs to answer with a dominating inside game. Witness last night's 29 point performance by Issac Fotu, with almost all of the baskets coming on uncontested 2 foot layups or dunks.
What remains an issue are the takeaways in the opencourt. Last night, both point guards had their pockets picked repeatedly ( 10 turnovers for Manroop and Tavita collectively). And poor free throw shooting will cost this team a win or two before the season is over. When the Bows get scoring from Jawato and Spearman, to go along with Standharginer's overall solid play, they will win more than they lose. But you have to be concerned with Brereton's poor play and Vander's inconsistant offense against much smaller opposition.
After tomorrow's game against Riverside, Hawaii should be 3-0 as they go out on the road. If you really want to predict how this team will do in the Conference, we will know alot more after next week's games. Not playing before the home folks, in small gyms, against teams who can shoot the ball at home and guards who can dominate the back-court, make the first two road games very significant. But you cant take anything away from a possible 3-0 start. Its been a long time since a Hawaii team started Conference play 3-0.
One thing that does concern me, however, is the quality of the league. Both Northridge and Fullerton's tallest frontcourt starter was 6-7, with the next tallest starter 6-4. These frontlines are hardly bigtime Div 1 , and although some of the Guards are quick, athletic and can score, they are short and slender and would be dominated by bigger backcourts. Its a little too early to draw any final conclusions, but one thing is certain, this is not the Mountain West ( you saw San Diego State and UNLV, and frankly, its not even last year's WAC ( New Mexico State, Nevada, Utah State, etc). But its where UH basketball is at the moment, and so the goal has to be to win the league or the Tournament. Lets see where we are after the first two road games. We know that there is no dominating team in the league, not after UH beat Fullerton and Long Beach suffered its first loss in just its second league game.