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Regular season starts this Friday with Rainbow Classic

The 2017-18 season gets underway in traditional fashion this week for the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

The Rainbow Warriors will open the regular season with three games in four nights as part of the 53rd Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. Hawai’i is scheduled to face Arkansas-Pine Bluff on November 10, North Dakota on November 12, and Troy on November 13.

Ticket prices range from $5 (students – upper level seats) to $30 (lower level seats), and are available online at www.hawaiiathletics.com. All three games will be televised on Spectrum Sports channel 16/1016.

Hawai’i has been the host school of the Rainbow Classic for 53 of the past 54 years, dating to the inaugural tournament in 1964 (it was not held in 2011 due to scheduling conflicts). The current format of four teams in a round-robin tournament started in 2009 (it was an eight-team tournament prior to that).

Under the current four-team format, Hawai’i has won the Rainbow Classic championship three times, the last one in 2015. Texas State won it last year.

If the Warriors are to reclaim the title, they will need to start off with what has become a more recent tradition – a victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Hawai’i is 5-0 against UAPB since 2010, including a 64-44 victory last year.

To put it in more perspective, UAPB’s six trips to Honolulu since 2010 are as many as Big West Conference members UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and UC Santa Barbara have made in that same stretch of years.

North Dakota and Troy should provide tougher challenges, as both teams participated in the NCAA Tournament last season.

It is also worth noting that another early-season tradition is ending this year. Hawai’i will not participate in a late-night game as part of the Rainbow Classic because ESPN will not run a College Hoops Tip Off Marathon this year. From 2008-16, the Warriors hosted a late-night game (around midnight start) every year as part of ESPN’s 24 consecutive hours of live games on that particular day.

Here is a summary of Hawai’I’s three opponents in this year’s Rainbow Classic …

Arkansas-Pine Bluff

The Golden Lions finished 7-24 last season, including 6-12 in the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC). They are picked to finish eighth (out of 10 teams) in this season’s SWAC Preseason Coaches Poll.

UAPB is making its sixth appearance as a road team against Hawai’i since 2010. The Golden Lions are 0-5 in the previous five meetings, losing to Hawai’i by an average margin of 22.0 points per game.

Ten players return from last season for UAPB, including five players who received significant game minutes. Trent Steen, a 6-foot-8 forward, returns for his senior season after leading the Golden Lions in several categories last season, including 9.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, and a .516 field goal percentage.

North Dakota

The Fighting Hawks went 22-10 last season, and won the Big Sky Conference regular-season and tournament championships. They lost to Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Two starters and three key reserves return this season, and North Dakota was picked sixth (out of 12 teams) in the Big Sky Coaches Preseason Poll.

The top returnee is Geno Crandall, a 6-4 junior guard who averaged 15.5 points, 4.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. He was named to the Preseason All-Big Sky Conference Team. The other returning starter is Conner Avants, a 6-7 junior forward who averaged 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, and had a .553 field goal percentage.

Troy

The Trojans finished 22-15 last season, and won four games in five days to take the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship as a No. 6 seed. They then lost to Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Troy is traveling to Hawai’i for the second straight year. The Trojans edged the Warriors, 65-63, in a non-tournament game last November.

The Trojans return four starters from last season, and were picked to finish third (out of 12 teams) in the Sun Belt Coaches Preseason Poll. Jordon Varnado, a 6-6 junior forward, led the team in scoring (16.5) and rebounding (7.1) last season, and is on this season’s Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team. Wesley Person, a 6-3 senior guard, averaged 14.8 points per game last season, and is considered one of the top returning 3-point shooters in the country. He made 94 3s and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc last season.

1 Comment

  1. Pine Bluff likes to start with tall men, all forwards and one center, per Bobby C. Later they put in the guards.
    They play zone all the time. UH better put in the shooters.

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