By Brian McInnis
The Hawaii men's basketball team was able to handle the biggest team (aside from itself) in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic on Friday night, prevailing 76-64 over Maryland-Eastern Shore.
The next two opponents, including today's contest against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, will present a different sort of challenge.
UAPB and Houston Baptist, guard-oriented teams, will likely look to test the Rainbow Warriors' ability to bring the ball upcourt cleanly — especially after UH faltered in that aspect late against UMES.
As I type this, Houston Baptist is eviscerating UMES in the prelude to the UH-UAPB game. Should the 'Bows get past the Golden Lions tonight, they could be in for quite the test in the ESPN midnight game. The Huskies have a rotation of speedy, athletic guards that get into their opponents.
Jace Tavita had about a good a debut as a UH fan could have hoped for against UMES. He'll need strong follow-up outings today and Monday if the 'Bows are to take the OHRC title.
It will continue to be a steep learning curve for backup points Garrett Jefferson and Manroop Clair. Their D-I debuts at PG weren't highly convincing, but Jefferson is still very useful for his defensive prowess and Clair, if he finds his comfort zone, can space the floor with his 3-ball.
I've been asked plenty if Brandon Spearman could be handed the keys to the offense at some point. I wouldn't expect it in this tournament. But keep an eye out for it if bringing the ball up continues to be an adventure.