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Rainbow Classic will have a sense of mystery

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It’s probably fitting that a relatively unknown University of Hawai’i basketball team will open its 2016-17 season against three relatively unknown opponents.

The Warriors, who have 10 newcomers and zero returning starters among the 14 players on the active roster, will open the season by hosting Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Friday night. That will be followed by games against Texas State on Sunday, November 13, and then Florida Atlantic on Monday, November 14. All of those games are part of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic.

Hawai’i played Florida Atlantic once – in 1999 – and has never faced SIU-Edwardsville or Texas State.

Take this for what it’s worth, especially considering that Hawai’i is virtually a brand new team this season: the Warriors won 28 games last season; SIU-Edwardsville, Texas State and Florida Atlantic combined to win 29 games last season.

Here is a quick look at the three opponents …

Southern Illinois-Edwardsville

In the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons, Hawai’i played a competitive home-and-home series with Southern Illinois. This SIU-Edwardsville is NOT that program.

SIU-Edwardsville became a NCAA Division I program in 2008, and has not had a winning season since. The Cougars finished 6-22 last season, and head coach Jon Harris is back for his second season.

SIU-Edwardsville lost an exhibition game to NCAA-II program McKendree, 91-84, last week.

Burak Eslik, a 6-foot-4 senior guard who is originally from Turkey, is the team’s top returning player. He averaged 14.0 points per game last season, and shot 84.5 percent from the free-throw line. He scored 40 points in a game last season.

Carlos Anderson, a 6-4 sophomore guard, averaged 10.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a freshman last season.

Christian Ellis, a 6-2 freshman point guard from Oakland, Calif., is expected to be an immediate contributor.

Texas State

The University of Texas is a perennial Big 12 Conference power, and considered one of the elite programs in all of college basketball. This Texas State is NOT that program.

Texas State is located in San Marcos, Texas, and is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The Bobcats finished 15-16 last season, but were picked to finish in last place (12th) in the 2016-17 Sun Belt coaches preseason poll.

Danny Kaspar is entering his fourth season as head coach at Texas State; he was previously a head coach at Stephen F. Austin and Incarnate Word.

Kavin Gilder-Tidbury, a 6-7 senior forward, is the top returning player for the Bobcats. He averaged 12.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season.

Ojai Black, a 6-1 senior guard, started all 31 games last season, finishing with averages of 7.2 points and 3.9 assists per game.

Nijal Pearson, a 6-5 freshman guard from Beaumont, Texas, scored 14 points in Texas State’s 62-46 exhibition victory over Southeastern Oklahoma State last week.

Florida Atlantic

Florida Gulf Coast University gained national notoriety as “Dunk City” a couple of years ago in the NCAA Tournament. This Florida Atlantic is NOT that program.

The Owls finished 8-25 last season, and were predicted to finish 12th (out of 14 teams) in the 2016-17 Conference USA coaches preseason poll.

Michael Curry is entering his third season as head coach, and is seeking to resurrect a program that won 21 games as recently as the 2010-11 season.

Several key players return for the Owls, led by 7-foot senior center Ronald Delph, who averaged 10.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocked shots per game last season.

Adonis Filer, a 6-4 senior guard, averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season; Nick Rutherford, a 6-3 sophomore, averaged 7.2 points per game and led the team in assists (3.5 per game) and steals (49) while starting every game as a freshman last season.

2 Comments

  1. Early Sagarin ratings have UH at 193; SIU, 307, Texas St. 290 and Florida Atlantic 275.

  2. … and North Carolina at 5.

    Sagarin or most other poles have a very difficult task in assessing an all new team. Given that they know MT won’t be playing, the 193 was given on the back of Drammeh alone, the only one left with significant playing time. And maybe the coaching staff too. In any case, not bad for a sophomore. Go Bows!

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