The good news for the Hawaii men’s basketball team is twofold.
First, it’s still exceptionally early in the Big West Conference season. Being 1-2 after Saturday’s 66-62 letdown at UC Riverside doesn’t mean UH can’t finish in the top four.
Second, as long as the ‘Bows finish in the top eight and make it to the Big West tournament, seeding doesn’t matter all that much. We saw that last year with Cal Poly, winning as the No. 7 seed. It’s all about who’s playing well at that point of the season.
Those things being said, the Riverside loss was pretty disappointing from a UH perspective. The Rainbows got up 13 early with their ball pressure, but weren’t able to keep it going late in the first half and for most of the second. A game after going for a career-best 34, Aaron Valdes was bottled up to the tune of 1-for-12 shooting.
It’s clear UH needs help in the halfcourt. Getting Garrett Nevels back, possibly for the coming week’s two games at home, as well as Negus Webster-Chan should allow the ‘Bows to shoot better than 35 percent overall against a team like UCR — improved from last year but not exactly a defensive juggernaut.
UH did have its chances in the final few minutes, but a couple questionable calls and missed looks doomed the ‘Bows. It was just exceedingly tough for UH to score if Riverside got its defense set.
It was the first win for Riverside over Hawaii in three years of Big West play.
Being 1-2 at this point is concerning when you consider these first three games were favorable, schedule-wise. It only gets tougher from here with league leader UC Davis coming on Thursday and preseason favorite UC Irvine following Saturday. After that, it’s four straight road games during the heart of league play.
If UH is to make a stand, the coming week is a good time to do it.