Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors endured through the unique 2020-21 season

The most bizarre season in NCAA basketball history certainly had its effects on the University of Hawai’i basketball team.

In what will forever be known as “the COVID season,” the Rainbow Warriors finished the 2020-21 campaign with an 11-10 record after their quarterfinal loss to UC Riverside in the Air Force Reserve Big West Conference Championship Tournament, presented by the Hawaiian Islands.

That the Warriors were able to play 21 games – including nine road games during a time when all out-of-state travel was considered “risky” due to the virus – was an accomplishment in itself.

“I know a lot of people behind the scenes did a lot of work to give us this opportunity,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said. “I want to thank them from our entire program.”

Here are a few more notes from the unprecedented season:

• Hawai’i played just two non-conference games, and against NCAA Division II teams from the state – Hawai’i Pacific and Hawai’i-Hilo. Due to the pandemic restrictions in place at the time, NCAA-I teams from the continent were unwilling to travel to Hawai’i, and the Warriors were unwilling to travel to the continent. It is a dilemma that will likely – hopefully – never happen again.

• Hawai’i led the Big West with 18 total conference games. Due to issues related to COVID-19, 30 Big West Conference games were either cancelled or postponed. Hawai’i went through the entire season without a positive COVID test within its program.

UC Davis played only 10 conference games, while UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State played 12 each. Due to the unequal amount of games played by each team, the final standings were based on winning percentage.

• Fans were not allowed entry at any games hosted by Big West teams. Hawai’i joined the Big West in the 2012-13 season and led the conference in attendance every year since then. For this season, all Big West teams are being recognized with an attendance average of 0.

• The Big West used a different schedule format this season, with teams playing on back-to-back nights at the same site. Thus, a visiting team traveling to Hawai’i played the Warriors on Friday and Saturday. When the Warriors traveled to California, they played back-to-back games against the same opponent, then returned home. The format was designed to limit travel for teams

The big question for the near future seasons: Should the same format be followed?

• The last time a Hawai’i team played fewer than 21 total games was during the 1963-64 season. That team played 19 games and finished with an 8-11 record.

• Two players – senior forward Samuta Avea and sophomore guard Kameron Ng – chose to “opt out” for this season. The NCAA allowed players to make that choice during this unique season, and any players choosing to opt out are allowed to return next season without any eligibility penalties.

What’s more, another player – junior college transfer Manel Ayol – decided to leave the team in early January. Also, sophomore forward Bernardo da Silva was essentially shut down for the entire season due to injuries.

Because of the subtractions, the Warriors went through most of the season with just 11 active players.

“I’m so proud of the fact that we started with 15 (players) and we had 11 for the last six, seven weeks and we got to this point keeping that 11 intact and healthy,” Ganot said. “They made improvements and they fought back … we’re going to learn and grow and we’re going to get back to work.”

Leave a Response

Login or fill in the fields below to comment. (New user? Register)