The Hawaii men’s basketball team is flying home on Thanksgiving from one of the longest road trips in program history.
It was also a successful one. UH went 2-1 in the Gulf Coast Showcase, capped off with a 75-73 defeat of East Carolina in the fifth-place game (consolation championship) on Wednesday. Benjy Taylor’s group improved to a surprising 6-2.
There’s no question the team has outperformed expectations thus far. The defeat of Pittsburgh on Maui followed by two wins on the other side of country (within the span of just a few days) had to have opened some eyes.
It’s apparent Benjy Taylor made the right moves in not over-loading the team with sets and practice time during this challenging opening stretch of eight games in 13 days.
Pitt got hammered by No. 15 San Diego State in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational, but came right back and blew out Kansas State the next night for third place. Beating Jamie Dixon‘s Panthers is still very much a feather in the cap of Taylor and the UH players.
RealtimeRPI.com has UH in the middle of the Big West right now with an RPI of 201. UC Irvine, with its difficult games at Arizona and at Saint Mary’s, leads the way at 54 and unbeaten UC Davis is 56.
I’ll know more about the status of Isaac Fleming upon the team’s return. He did not play at all against ECU after receiving just a single minute in the win against Marist. Taylor described it as a “coach’s decision.”
The team will need Fleming’s dynamic slashing and playmaking in the long term if it is to be successful in the Big West. One could surmise that Taylor is sending him a message before the games ramp up in stakes.
Up next are a home game against Delaware State (Dec. 2) and a “neutral site” game in Salt Lake City against BYU (Dec. 6).
What are your thoughts about how the team has performed thus far?