The 2015 Rainbow Classic is history and UH is the Champion. Two easy wins and last night's thriller have gotten the Rainbow Warriors to a solid start.
On Friday and Sunday, Hawaii got off to quick starts and had 20 plus point leads into the second half before conservative play and poor free throw shooting allowed both Montana State and Coastal Carolina to make it interesting, although the Bows were never seriously challenged. Neither of these teams played particularly well. Montana State will have a tough year, and Coastal Carolina really missed two starters from last year. They may get better, but they have a long way to go.
Last night seemed like a carbon copy of the first two games with Hawaii once again getting out to a big lead. They led by 16 with 16 minutes to go, but once again poor free throw shooting and what appears to be a serious deficiency in help defense in the paint almost led to a stunning defeat as Nevada came roaring back and actually took the lead with less than a minute to go. But give credit to these Bows. Mike Thomas completed a three point play with a great move to the basket and then, with Hawaii down by 1 with just a few seconds to play, Bobbitt completed a coast to coast dribble drive to give Hawaii the win.
Bobbitt had a great tournament. He almost never left the court, created havoc on defense and handled the point with stability and calmness. Sai Tummala demonstrated a deadly outside shot, Aaron , as expected played hard and well on both ends, and Smith gave Hawaii several solid minutes on both ends of the court( he still struggles , however, with any shot outside the paint, including free throws).
But I must say I was disappointed in Jankovic's play. The first two night he towered over his counterparts, but he never dominated the opposing Center preferring to slide away from the basket on his layups and not controlling the boards. We know he loves the outside shot, but in the 4 out, 1 in, offense Hawaii is trying to run, you need a strong presence in the paint. Last night, neither he nor any of his other frontcourt team-mates appeared capable of stopping Nevada's penetration once they got past the first line of defense.
As a team, Hawaii seemed convinced they could make threes. But frankly, 30% wont cut it. This team will struggle from outside although on a given nite one or two guys may shoot well from outside. But their defense, in creating turnovers and causing steals, leads to multiple lay-up opportunities and a solid transition game.
With these three wins, and a very easy schedule up to the Diamond Head and then up to league play, I think it quite possible this team will go undefeated until the Classic and enter league play with only 1 or 2 losses. Yes, they have to go on a one game road trip to Texas Tech, but that team is not very good, and the Bows are road experienced after last year. And who else will they lose to before the Diamond Head? Take a look at the schedule and tell me.
It was great to see the team react to last night's win before a roaring student dominated crowd. The place was rocking and the game, although not very artistic , was thrilling, especially the final five minutes. It is clear this team has talent and is well- coached. They are not perfect, at least not yet. The free throwing shooting will cause them a game or two if it doesn't improve, and making outside shots on the road is more difficult than at home. And they have to figure out how to defend in the paint without fouling.
By the way, the new emphasis on opening up play by limiting defensive hand -checking, etc, doesn't appear to be working just yet. Way too many fouls over the weekend, and somewhat inconsistent officiating, especially in the first two games.
Hope to see a big crowd for Sunday's game. This team deserves it.