By Jeff Portnoy
Over the next few days, I will provide a brief review of this year's schedule and my predictions for each game. We start today with the Non Diamond Head and Non Conference schedule which begins Friday and goes thru Jan 3 In making my picks, i have used several resources, including pre-season magazines and most importantly, the 2014 Pomeroy Rankings, which many people believe is the best predictor of a teams' performance.
The season begins with this weekend's four team tournament. Hawaii opens with Tennessee State, then plays Western Michigan, and at midnite on Monday, concludes with New Mexico State.
Tennessee State is ranked 219 preseason. Hawaii is ranked 207. They play in the Ohio Valley Conference and are picked to finish 3 to 5 in the 6 team East Division. They have an all league guard in Patrick Miller. I like Hawaii to open the season with a win.
A tougher match is game 2 against Western Michigan. They have a Pomeroy preseason ranking of 153. They play in the West Division of the Mid- American Conference and are picked to finish in the top three. They were in the CBI last year, but they lost the Conference Freshman of the Year, Darius Paul, who transferred to Illinois. I like the Rainbow Warriors to make it two straight to open the season.
The midnight game, however, is against the best non Diamond Head team the Bows will face at home in New Mexico State. The Aggies are the clear favorite to win the WAC and are ranked 90 preseason. They have the league's top player in Daniel Mullings, a Jr Guard. I think they have just a little too much for Hawaii and i pick the Aggies to win the tournament championship ( but it is a midnight game so who knows).
The team then goes on the road to face SEC powerhorse Missouri. The Tigers are not as strong as they have been, but they are picked to finish 5 or 6th in a bigtime Conference. Their preseason ranking is 49. They are a probable NCAA Tournament team and have averaged 25 wins over the past 5 seasons. Credit Gib for scheduling this game. It will help the Warriors RPI, but its very likley to be a loss.
Next up for Hawaii are two easy home games. First up is the game against UH Hilo. Its the first of two games against Hawaii Div 2 schools and really should have been an exhibition. But with Hawaii finding it tough to get Div 1 schools to come out here and play, what can you do.
That game is followed by a home game with New Orleans, a new member of the Southland Conference and Division 1 for two years. They are a bad team. ranked 349 out of 352 Div 1 teams. They are picked to finish in the bottom four of their 14 team league
After those two wins, Hawaii gets a much tougher home game against Montana. Ranked 139 preseason, they are picked either 1 or 2 in the Big Sky. They are the two time defending champs, but lost their two best players to graduation. They beat Hawaii badly when they last played in Montana, but i am going with the Bows at home this time.
Hawaii then goes on the road for a single game at another Big Sky school, Northern Arizona. They are not very good. They have a preseason ranking of 284 are picked to finish in the lower half of their Conference. Dispite the game being on the road where Hawaii has not played well, especially against Non-Conference teams, I see hawaii coming home with a win.
Next up is another of those Div 2 Hawaii opponents,this time Chaminade. This is the last game before the Diamond Head, and i dont think Hawaii will be looking ahead. This game will be played on Kaua'1, and Hawaii previals.
Finally, there are two non-league games after the Diamond Head Classic. The first is against Norfolk State. Their preseason ranking is just ahead of UH at 204. They went undefeated in thier Conference last year, finishing 16-0 in the Mid Eastern Conference. They lost in the quarterfinals of the Conference Tournament. But their Conference is very weak, and dispite being picked to win the Conference again this year, I think they are out here to celebrate New Year's and the Bows will win.
That game is followed by the last Non-Conference game of the season against Nebraska-Omaha. Ranked 307, they are picked to finish in the middle of the Summit League. They have the league's top returning scorer, but they will be no match for Hawaii.
Adding it all up, I think Hawaii will go 9-2 against the Non-Conference, Non Diamond Head opponents. Frankly, against these teams, anything less than 8-3 would be a disappointment. But as you will see over the next few days, things get much tougher in the Diamond Head and the Conference.