Despite .500 Record, Hawaii Shows Continued Improvement
By: Lauren Miller
The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are currently sitting with a 2-2 record after the first two weeks of the 2016-17 college basketball season. Hawaii is coming off a great season that saw the team win the Big West Conference and make it to the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. While the Rainbow Warriors will never be able to match the success of last year’s team after getting banned from postseason play by the NCAA, there are still a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this season.
After playing three extremely close games to start the season, Hawaii lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels by 15 points. Despite the ugly final score, the game against North Carolina was actually Hawaii’s most encouraging game of the season. The Tar Heels entered the game as the 5th ranked team in the country, and they consistently had trouble scoring on the Rainbow Warriors. This was the first time this season that Hawaii proved it could stop a good offensive team on a consistent basis. If the Rainbow Warriors can continue playing great defense like they did against North Carolina, they will have no problem winning a lot of games this season.
Hawaii has two more tough non-conference games scheduled in the next few weeks. The first tough game is against the Seton Hall Pirates on December 6. Seton Hall is currently undefeated, and they are also one of the best teams in the extremely tough Big East Conference. The other tough game comes one day after the Seton Hall game when Hawaii plays the Princeton Tigers. While Princeton is winless in their first two games, they are still expected to contend for a spot in the NCAA Tournament this season. Winning these two games will prove to the rest of the Big West Conference that the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are still the team to beat this season.
Hawaii is going to get competition in the Big West from the UC Irvine Anteaters and Long Beach State 49ers. They both finished right behind Hawaii in the Big West standings last year, and both teams should be improved this season. Neither team may have an impressive record at the moment, but they are the two most talented teams in the conference. UC Irvine and Long Beach State will also get the benefit of playing several games against the best teams in the country before the start of conference play. It will not be easy, but Hawaii will have to play tough defense throughout the season if they want to finish at the top of the Big West Conference for the second straight season.