Coming off a sixth-place showing and the loss of its two best players from 2017-18, the Hawaii men’s basketball team was tabbed to finish sixth in the Big West preseason media poll released on Thursday morning.
Defending regular-season champ UC Davis was tabbed to finish third, while defending Big West tournament champ Cal State Fullerton was predicted second. Annual contender UC Irvine was slotted first receiving 10 of the 24 first-place votes.
UPDATE: UH coach Eran Ganot shared his thoughts with Hawaii Warrior World.
— Big West MBB (@BigWestMBB) October 25, 2018
No UH players were picked to the six-person preseason all-conference team.
The preseason all-conference team is comprised of UC Davis guard T.J. Shorts II, the returning Big West player of the year; Cal State Fullerton guards Kyle Allman and Khalil Ahmad; UC Santa Barbara guard Max Heidegger; and UC Irvine forward Tommy Rutherford and guard Evan Leonard.
UH had nominated its three seniors Jack Purchase, Sheriff Drammeh and Brocke Stepteau for balloting.
UH went 17-13 overall and 8-8 in the BWC last year, going 1-1 against each conference opponent then losing to UC Irvine in a heartbreaker in the Big West tournament first round. The Rainbows lost graduated forwards Mike Thomas and Gibson Johnson from that team, as well as reserve center Ido Flaisher to early departure.
Drammeh is the top returning scorer at 10.7 ppg. The rest of the returning nucleus is sophomore Drew Buggs; junior Zigmars Raimo; junior Leland Green; sophomore Samuta Avea; and junior Brandon Thomas. Justin Hemsley is coming off a redshirt year. Key newcomers are big men Mate Colina, Owen Hulland and Dawson Carper, and guard Eddie Stansberry.
Here’s how UH has been picked in the media preseason poll since joining the Big West, and how the ‘Bows finished in the conference regular season.
2018-19: Picked 6th; finished ??
2017-18: Picked 5th; finished 6th (8-8)
2016-17: Picked 8th; finished 5th (8-8)
2015-16: Picked 3rd; finished T-1st (13-3)
2014-15: Picked 5th; finished 5th (8-8)
2013-14: Picked 6th; finished 4th (9-7)
2012-13: Picked 4th; finished 5th (10-8)
As you can see, UH has never been picked to finish higher than third. The only year the Big West pollsters got it just right was in 2014-15, when Benjy Taylor was interim coach and a lot was in play that season.