Every so often, a basketball game like Thursday night comes around that reminds you to really, really cherish the good times.
Hawaii’s 68-67 defeat at the hands of UC Irvine was a gut-wrenching affair that saw the Rainbow Warriors control the first 36 minutes — and then crash and burn in the last four. A combination of poor shot selection, forced and unforced turnovers and UC Irvine’s moxie undid the ‘Bows in season-ending fashion.
If you play those last four minutes 100 times, with the score what it was, you’d have to think UH wins at least 95 times. Alas. The team, particularly seniors Mike Thomas and Gibson Johnson, showed real character afterward and gamely answered questions while clearly heartbroken on the postgame interview table.
As you may have heard by now, UH will not participate in any postseason tournament. Its 2017-18 season is over at 17-13.
UH athletic director David Matlin was pretty hesitant on the idea of a pay-for-play tournament going into the Big West tourney. First of all, you don’t want to think about that if your team has a legitimate chance to win it and go to the NCAAs (as UH believed it did), and second, the prospect of an up-front payment ($40K-plus) that you may or may not break even on once ticket revenue is calculated just didn’t seem to sit well in these austere times. Last time, against Air Force in 2013 (the infamous Vander walkout game), UH did not break even, and in retrospect it was clear extending the season at that time was a mistake.
As you can read in Saturday’s print edition, some wear and tear on several players made the prospect of prolonging the season a forced affair at best. There’s a difference between leaving it all out there to make your NCAA dreams come true, and playing for the sake of playing in a third- or fourth-tier tournament.
Some of the ‘Bows offered up season tributes on Twitter.
— Produced by MT (@prodby_MT) March 9, 2018
I love my team. Thanks for the memories Hawaii. Forever a Rainbow Warrior 💚🤙🏼 pic.twitter.com/fTBPgtCxwu
— Gibson (@gibsonj21) March 9, 2018
— Drew Buggs (@stonecolddrew) March 9, 2018