Hawaii gets a chance to atone for the disappointment of last season’s opener against a team it knows exceptionally well to kick off 2017-18.
It’s UH vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff for the fourth straight year, and for the sixth time in eight seasons. This is the second season opener among them.
UH gets a chance to showcase its depth against a team that can throw upwards of 12 players into its rotation. Pine Bluff has a lot of shortcomings, but it is able to throw a bunch of guys at you.
Mike Thomas and Gibson Johnson have been named team captains this season. They are locked into the frontcourt. Redshirt freshman Drew Buggs will debut as the starter at point guard and Leland Green has maintained his starting job at shooting guard.
The 3 spot is the biggest question mark coming into this game, and not because of preseason position battles. It was apparent Sheriff Drammeh won the job in UH’s base three-guard lineup (he started the exhibition vs. HPU), but the junior was absent practices for about a week leading into tonight with an illness. He could be doubtful to play today. Forward Jack Purchase took the most reps with the first group in his stead.
The person Drammeh primarily competed with at the 3, Brandon Thomas, is a game-time decision with a bruised leg.
UPDATE: Drammeh is not out with the team for warmups. It appears he is out today. But Brandon Thomas looks suited up and ready to go.
In case you need an example of how shorthanded Pine Bluff tends to operate as an institution, they basically just lifted UH’s game notes (with credit given) onto their own website. That includes the part where UH put out the call for a “Blackout” night.
— Brian McInnis (@Brian_McInnis) November 10, 2017
In the opening game of the Rainbow Classic, it was a pretty tame three-point game in the 30s at halftime — and then North Dakota’s Geno Crandall put on a show. He scored 37 of his 41 points in the second half as UND edged Troy 83-80.
Crandall had the go-ahead three free throws with 3.2 seconds left.
Crandall didn’t miss a shot in the second half until a top-arc 3 just rimmed out with 2:30 left, which put him in a three-way tie with Cal State Fullerton’s Josh Akognon and BYU’s Chase Fischer for the Stan Sheriff Center scoring record.
It was the first 40-point game for a UND player since 1997.
Also — UND has a sophomore guard named Marlon Stewart. That’s exactly the same spelling as first-year UH assistant Marlon Stewart. If you put both of them either in a jersey or in a suit, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell which was the player and which the coach.
Here’s a video summary of some of the officiating changes the NCAA is making this year.