Happy New Year, all.
The Hawaii basketball team concluded its nonconference schedule in reasonably successful fashion, going 2-1 in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic and surviving a challenge from Alabama A&M in the nonleague finale on Saturday.
So how does UH’s 9-5 record stack up to the rest of the Big West? As you’ll recall, the Rainbow Warriors were picked to finish sixth in the nine-team league in the preseason of 2018-19.
Besides highly successful nonconference runs for UC Irvine (the preseason favorite) and UC Santa Barbara, and a couple of nice wins by Hawaii, the Big West really didn’t have much to show for its pre-league results. Experienced teams like Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis and Long Beach State were expected to be better to this point and have largely disappointed.
As expected, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly have brought up the rear, although those teams have showed some recent upside.
The Big West checked in at 24th of 32 conferences in a recent breakdown of the NCAA’s new NET metric — that is, 24th in average NET among its member teams.
UH had two of the Big West’s three wins against Power Five teams — Utah and Colorado. Irvine had the other, at Texas A&M. UCSB (at Washington) and Davis (at Arizona) came close to a couple more.
Most of the league could theoretically put something together in the coming months; Fullerton and Davis still have some of the best guards in the league with the likes of Kyle Allman and Khalil Ahmad (CSUF) and T.J. Shorts II and Siler Schneider (UCD).
UH coach Eran Ganot felt pretty good about his team’s overall nonconference performance — the season-high 18 turnovers against Alabama A&M’s extended 2-3 zone notwithstanding.
“In terms of the wins, 9-5 through I think one of the tougher nonconference slates we’ve seen in the last 10 years or so,” Ganot said. “And obviously finishing it with three in a row. (Against Alabama A&M), I think we took a step back in some areas. No disservice to the way they competed, because they were tremendous. … But I think we took a step back in some areas. You look back and you see three three-game tournaments. I think you can see the lack of practice time, what that does for you. This is a key stretch coming up for us, but we also need to recharge our batteries. Because a lot of teams get those breaks over the holidays and we didn’t have it over either holiday (Thanksgiving or Christmas). But it’s also a great thing to play on the holidays, play on national television and play against those programs. And today we saw another different style. So I’m pleased we got to get some good reps and experience against good teams in different ways.
Really looking forward to this stretch coming up.”
UH opens up Big West play hosting Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 9.
Here’s the breakdown of Big West squads through the New Year, in order of KenPom.com rating.
Big West teams (record), KenPom rating
UC Irvine (11-4), 100
UC Santa Barbara (10-3), 145
Cal State Fullerton (4-9), 168
Hawaii (9-5), 200
Long Beach State (5-10), 215
UC Davis (3-10), 242
UC Riverside (5-10), 309
Cal State Northridge (6-8), 310
Cal Poly (3-9), 320