The basketball world — heck, the world in general — was shaken by the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday.
That morning’s helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., took the life of Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others. Locally, the mood changed quickly from the previous night’s wins for the UH basketball teams — at UC Riverside for the women and at home, and a men’s thriller over UC Davis in the program’s 100th season celebration game.
UH paid its respects Sunday night to Bryant, who spent multiple preseason training camps with the Los Angeles Lakers at the Manoa campus, including for his last season in 2015-16.
— Hawaii Athletics (@HawaiiAthletics) January 27, 2020
The show must go on, and it just so happens that both hoops teams are in town this week, the only UH sporting events taking place on the island. They play their third, and final, doubleheader of Big West play on Saturday, and the Rainbow Wahine also host UC Irvine on Thursday.
The Eddie Stansberry-led Rainbow Warriors, tied for first in the Big West with UC Irvine at 4-1, are trying to make it a 4-0 homestand against potent Cal State Northridge.
UH remains No. 1 in the country in men’s volleyball, but those ‘Bows have the week off coming off a 4-0 road trip plus their alumni match.
The fourth-ranked UH water polo team and both tennis teams are on the mainland.
Women’s tennis: Hawaii (0-2) at No. 1 Stanford (2-0), 1:30 p.m.
The Rainbow Wahine continue to test themselves, and then some, in their early portion of their dual-match schedule. After falling at home to No. 14 Washington, 5-1, and No. 16 Florida State, 5-2, UH heads up to face the top-ranked team in the land. Grip your racquets tight.
Women’s basketball: UC Irvine (5-14, 1-4 Big West) at Hawaii (9-10, 3-3), 7 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
This is the type of opponent that UH will have to dispatch without a second thought at home if it wants to earn at least one bye in the Big West tournament. The Anteaters shot 30.4 percent and 38 percent in home losses last week against Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State. Wahine guard Julissa Tago is averaging 13.8 points for the full season (ninth among BWC players), but in BWC play she’s inflicting 17.2 ppg on foes, fourth in the league. Her next 3-pointer made will tie her for fourth at UH all-time with Jade Abele, Kylie (Page) Galloway and Janevia Taylor at 117.
Men’s tennis: Las Vegas Invitational, TBD
Like the women’s squad, the Rainbow Warrior tennis team (0-3) has tested itself aplenty in the early going. Its rain-slicked home contests against Duke and Arizona were a prelude to a trip to the desert for a three-day event hosted by UNLV.
Water polo: No. 4 Hawaii (3-0) vs. Cal State East Bay (1-0), 7:30 a.m.
The Wahine poolsters likewise head to a dry climate in participating in Arizona State’s Cross Conference Challenge over three days. UH, which bested three ranked teams at home in the Rainbow Invite last week, opens this event against a mostly untested foe.
Men’s tennis: Las Vegas Invitational, Hawaii at UNLV, noon
Water polo: No. 4 Hawaii at No. 10 Arizona State (2-0), 7:15 a.m.; vs. Azusa Pacific (1-3), 12:15 p.m.
The Wahine, who opened the season ranked sixth, can fortify their standing as a top-five team with a win at ASU.
Women’s tennis: Hawaii at UC Irvine (1-0), 7 a.m.
UH encounters its first Big West foe of the season.
Women’s basketball: Long Beach State (9-10, 4-2) at Hawaii, 5:30 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
Pivotal game here. The Beach bested UH 62-55 at the Walter Pyramid last week in one that UH felt it gave away due to its poor start in the game. The Wahine rallied from 23 points down to make it a game, but ran out of time. LBSU is on a three-game winning streak to emerge as one of the conference title contenders behind a strong rebounding prowess.
Men’s basketball: Cal State Northridge (8-14, 3-3 Big West) at Hawaii (13-6, 4-1), 8 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KKEA 1420-AM)
Reigning Big West Player of the Year Lamine Diane is making up for lost time, averaging an eye-popping 27.9 points and 10.6 rebounds in nine games since becoming academically eligible once again in December. The explosive Diane and guard Terrell Gomez (20.6 ppg) make for league’s most dangerous 1-2 combination, but CSUN has delivered a win only half the time in BWC play so far. UH fell victim to the Matadors 84-73 at the Sheriff last year, allowing Gomez (32 points) and Diane (25) to go off. Can UH, for now tied for first with Irvine, redeem that and go 4-0 on its homestand with Bernardo da Silva and Samuta Avea still question marks health-wise?
Men’s tennis: Las Vegas Invitational, TBD
Water polo: No. 4 Hawaii vs. Princeton (0-0), 6:15 a.m.; No. 4 Hawaii vs. Ottawa-Arizona (0-8), 12:30 p.m.
The Wahine conclude this road trip with another two-match day.