By Brian McInnis
Well, now everybody's had a few days to digest Hawaii's 78-77 OT loss to Illinois on Friday night.
Feel any better yet, those of you who were there?
Can't blame anyone if they don't. That was a tough one for the Rainbow Warriors, and their 'fro-clad fans, to swallow.
If it's any solace, the Fighting Illini absolutely went off in their EA Sports Maui Invitational opening game against USC on Monday night, spanking the Trojans 94-64. They shot 68.8 percent — ! — in the first half. If they threaten to win Maui over the next two days, UH's close loss to them won't look bad at all.
Tonight's 7 p.m. game against North Dakota offers a prime opportunity for a bounce-back win before UH heads out for possibly its toughest game of the season, Dec. 1 at No. 18 UNLV.
The Former Fighting Sioux (now sans nickname) are a guard-driven team, like Illinois, minus the offensive explosiveness.
Senior swingman Hauns Brereton was still feeling the loss over the weekend, but told SA writer Jason Kaneshiro he'd be ready.
"Watching that game (on film), it magnified our weaknesses and what we need to tighten up," Brereton said. "What we did wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. We need to do is tighten up where we catch the ball in offensive sets. We need to tighten up where we push people on defense. We were making mistakes by not having them 2 feet back. If we would have moved our defenders 2 feet back that would have made so much difference on how they were scoring or if they would have scored. Two feet makes a big difference in basketball. Just that extra effort makes a big difference."
Also, per Dave Reardon, combo guard Brandon Spearman might get some run at the point tonight. It's an interesting option which might free up Garrett Jefferson for his more traditional defensive role at the 2.
Credit to the UH students for coming out in force, making it look and sound like a true college atmosphere on "Wig Night." Of course, Illinois is used to them just about every game in the Big Ten, and wasn't fazed down the stretch. UI coach John Groce still gave credit to the UH game atmosphere in Monday's postgame presser and said that game helped his team prepare for Maui.
If UH can draw the youth like that on a game-to-game basis, that's a huge plus. Tonight's UND game is "Beach Night," and the students are encouraged to have their beach attire going. So, umm, that could be interesting while UND takes its free throws at the Manoa Maniacs' end.
I ran into former UH women's basketball assistant coach Serenda Valdez along press row this morning at the Lahaina Civic Center.
Valdez, who now works in the UH admissions department, keeps regular tabs on how former Rainbow Wahine point guard Janevia Taylor is doing.
Unfortunately, Valdez says, it's the status quo for Taylor, now in a care facility in North Hollywood where her medical bills are paid by the state of California. It's been over five years now since Taylor's life-threatening car accident put her into a coma, and over four since this update on her. Valdez last saw her in August and said there hadn't been any recent encouraging signs of her stirring like there were in the first year or two.
Her family keeps hope, though. You hear those stories about people waking up years and years after going into a coma.