Rainbow Forecast: men’s basketball opens Diamond Head Classic, women’s hoops takes third road trip

Hawaii’s Eddie Stansberry was named Big West player of the week after scoring 23 points against Samford on Sunday. UH now readies for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

It’s final exam week on the Manoa campus, which means an exceptionally light workload in this week’s Forecast.

In fact, there’s only a single men’s basketball game (at home) and a single women’s basketball game (on the road) to account for at the tail end of the week. However, in the case of the Rainbow Warriors, that’s the start of the always exciting Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Why so light a schedule? Well, the Hawaii football team doesn’t play until the SoFi Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24 and the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team saw its season come to a close at 26-4 on Friday with a straight-sets loss to Nebraska in the NCAA round of 16. Alas, ’twas a mighty season and a return to prominence for the program under Robyn Ah Mow.

The two UH hoops squads are coming off offensive explosions in twin routs of visiting opposition on Sunday. For his part (23 points) in a rout of Samford, senior shooting guard Eddie Stansberry was tabbed the Big West player of the week for the second time in a month.

Women’s basketball: Hawaii (6-5) at Idaho (4-4), noon
Coming off a season-high 86-point outburst in a home win over NAIA Hope International, Hawaii heads to the mainland for the third time this offseason. This time they will be welcomed by a former WAC foe and a former UH assistant in Jon Newlee, who’s got a large team for the Wahine to contend with (half the roster is 6 feet or taller, and the shortest player is 5-7) at the Kibbie Dome. UH beat Idaho 69-61 at the Sheriff Center last December. The Vandals have played only one home game to date, beating Colorado State on Nov. 13. Two Wahine players to keep an eye out for are Amy Atwell and Nae Nae Calhoun, who sat out against HIU. Meanwhile, freshman forward Kasey Neubert took advantage with 22 points in 21 minutes, sinking all eight shots from the field and all six from the line. With a victory in Moscow, UH can guarantee itself a winning pre-conference record. The Wahine stunned Washington 62-50 their last time on the road.

Men’s basketball: UTEP (6-1) at Hawaii (7-3), 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2, KKEA 1420-AM)
Best time of the year for UH nonconference play! The Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic is in its 11th year. My, how time flies. UH is coming off a rousing 94-73 win over Samford, featuring an offensive spree that was a ton of fun to watch. Old WAC foe UTEP, meanwhile, will play three more opponents before making it out to the islands. These onetime familiar adversaries have not met since March of 2005, in the Miners’ last WAC tournament — that one was won 80-62 by UTEP. Former Fresno State coach Rodney Terry, in his second year, is starting to turn things around for the storied program in El Paso, which went 8-21 last year. So far, UTEP has lost only at New Mexico State, a notoriously tough place to play. UH, which as of Monday is still being headed up by acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen, seeks its first opening-round win in the DHC since 2015. The Rainbows are 3-7 in DHC openers. Should they get past UTEP, UH could face No. 22 Washington in the second round Monday (win or loss, it will be either UW or Ball State, the team UH was originally supposed to play first). Note that this game will probably tip off closer to 7 p.m. because of the UW/Ball game starting at 4:30.