Greetings from the Friendly Isle. After a bumpy ride in a tiny Cessna prop plane and some stumbling around on dark streets upon landing, your humble correspondent is settled in and ready to cover some hoops on Molokai.
Tipoff between UH (4-3) and Chaminade (3-6) is tonight at 7:30 p.m. No TV or video streaming for this one, so you'll have to tune in to KKEA, 1420-AM to catch it.
UH arrived safely Friday night and headed straight to Molokai High's gym, The Barn, for a light practice. The Rainbow Warriors were then treated to a meal there by the locals.
The Barn is your typical high school gym, seating about 2,000, with the caveat that it's at one of the most remote places in the state. That lends it a unique feel.
Stan Sheriff Center arena manager Rich Sheriff flew over ahead of time to etch in the charge circle and extended college 3-point lines on the court. It looked well done.
Doing a little picture experimentation here. This is UH assistant Brandyn Akana at his alma mater, Molokai High, where he used to light it up in the Maui Interscholastic League.
"It feels great. Feels like I'm back home," said Akana, whose older brother Jarinn, the former UH guard, was there as well. "Real comfortable in this gym. The guys are comfortable here, too. We spent some time here a couple months ago. Just seeing the friendly faces, old coaches, family and friends. Really good feeling to be back home."
Here was the team as a whole practicing in the barn.
Meanwhile, Chaminade — the "home" team for this game — was to fly in Saturday morning after a 74-65 loss to a tough Cedarville team on Friday night.
The good news for the 'Swords (and potentially bad news for the 'Bows) was that senior guard De'Andre Haskins and freshman forward Kevin Hu, the two players instrumental in the upset of Texas last month, returned from injuries to play off the bench vs. Cedarville.
UH senior center Vander Joaquim was feeling confident after Friday's practice, despite the team's two consecutive losses. He said his right knee was in good shape.
"So far so good. We feel like we're at home. Nice weather out here," Joaquim said. "It helps out a lot because we had practice here before. I kind of feel like I'm getting the boards, you know, with the rims, it's not like it's something new because we just got here and we gotta get used to it."