Hawaii athletic director David Matlin confirmed today what you most likely guessed — the Hawaii basketball team’s 2016-17 season is well and truly done. Long Beach State’s 73-62 win in the Big West tournament first round on Thursday was definitive.
Tournaments like the CIT, CBI and Vegas 16 have been increasingly desperate for teams in recent years, even taking teams with sub-.500 records — like Hawaii at 14-16.
But Matlin and coach Eran Ganot were of the same mind that not much would be gained by entering such an event this year, were an invitation extended. UH limped to the finish line; as Ganot said today, the team had 7.5 players on scholarship available by the end, with the injured Jack Purchase counted as half his usual self. Partly for that depth reason, UH dropped its last three games after being in position to win each them if it had executed down the stretch.
There’s recruiting to get to, now that UH has been given back its two docked scholarships for next season. Some of the UH coaching staff is remaining on the mainland to advance their efforts for the upcoming spring signing period (April 12 to May 17).
Team academics was also cited. Ganot feels good about this team’s standing, but the program has a lot of work to do to recover from the hits it took the last couple of years. Getting the team back in class on Monday is important to them coming off a two-week trip.
So, how should people look back on this season? UH’s first losing campaign since 2009-10 certainly didn’t feel like your typical one. There were some real highlights — the home games against LBSU and CSUN come to mind — as well as your share of low points.
It’s understandable to have some disappointment given all the success that transpired the year before. But I think, given what overshadowed everything the last two years, you’ve got to slap a big-time asterisk on it.
If you're unmoved by what #HawaiiMBB did this year, I don't know what to tell you. A near-.500 record with 8-9 active scholarship guys?
— Brian McInnis (@Brian_McInnis) March 10, 2017
Noah Allen put together a memorable final college basketball season. Gibson Johnson and Purchase proved themselves valued rotation players, and there are a handful of young players on the team who could be real difference makers in the Big West in the years to come. Mike Thomas and Drew Buggs will come off redshirt years.
At the same time, there are some real areas UH could look to improve. Its guard play improved as the season went but was by no means great. It lacked a true post enforcer that could contend with the UCIs and LBSUs.
Look for a full season in review in Sunday’s print edition.
The UH team banquet has been announced for Tuesday, April 11 in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom. Individual tickets are $150. You can call or email Bobbie Omoto at 956-6501 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guard Larry Lewis Jr., who missed the last two games against LBSU while attending to a death in the family, is expected back on campus on Monday, Ganot said.
UH is still working through the process of retroactively assigning a current UH walk-on a scholarship for the past fall and this spring semester. Brocke Stepteau comes to mind as the logical choice, given his role on the team, but there’s also Zach Buscher, who’s been with the ‘Bows for three years now.