It’s possible that you haven’t seen them play this year, or in the last few years. That would be totally normal if you were a college basketball fan living on the mainland.
After making the change from the WAC to the Big West for the 2013 season, it was impossible to get a sense of where the program was heading. One one side of the spectrum, the Warriors were coming off a 16-16 season. Not great but things could be much worse when your a team in a conference outside of the Top 10 historically. In contrast, moving conferences to a even weaker conference was sort of a head scratcher for me.
Hawaii is in a very unique situation year in and year out. From an athletics stand point, they should be doing better. I mean, what top recruit wouldn’t want to go to Hawaii and play basketball and get some sun and sand while their at it? Trust me, I have been to Hawaii four times and the weather is amazing every day of the year.
Unfortunately, it an’t that easy in College basketball. Firstly, any good college basketball player isn’t going to be attracted to the hot sandy beaches and 90F weather. First and for most, they are going to college to become a better basketball player. The second reason is the TV contract the Big West has with ESPN as it televises very little Big West games. Lastly and the biggest reason is the poximidety to home. Hawaii is two hours behind LA time in Winter and therefore their games start very late in the night on the West Coast and in the wi hours of the night in the East Coast.
This makes it very challenging for Hawaii to recruit players on the East coast as it is about a 12 hour flight from Honolulu to New York.
So how has Hawaii built such a good team this year? There are quite a few reasons actually. One, has been paientince. Every year in the Big West, Hawaii’s win total has gone up. Last year they lost in the Big West Tournament Final and this year they have played some very exciting basketball on their way to a 27-5 record. The second reason is Leadership. Hawaii has three seniors and five juniors which is almost unheard of these days in college basketball. The leader of all the leaders is Roderick Bobbitt as he has tallied 13 points per game this year and dished out five assists.
Another reason for the Rainbow’s success has been the creation of the Dimond Head Classic. The first year it happened was 2009 and it really is a much better recruiting tool then the nice weather. in the 2009-10 season, Hawaii went 10-20 and 3-13 in the WAC. The Dimond Head Classic is chance to play good teams on National TV right before Christmas. This is huge for the Hawaii program because those games might be the only ones that get on TV along with the Tip off Marathon game that ESPN shows. Lastly the fourth key to their success was adding a Canadian in Stefan Jankovic which is a key to any College basketball teams success in the NCAA’s. Stefan Jankovic averages a team high 15 points per game and also grabs and average of six rebounds per game.
This year, I have had a pleasure of watching about half of Hawaii’s games this year thanks to internet streaming and no complicated mid-terms to study for now that I’m out of college. Hawaii is ineligible for the post-season next year and because of that Hawaii is essentially playing with eight seniors when they take on Cal at 11am PT on Friday. Even the Juniors won’t be able to play in the tournament again for Hawaii if they happen to fall to the underachieving California Golden Bears.