By Brian McInnis
The Hawaii women's basketball team raised the bar in the Big West tournament on Wednesday. Can the UH men do the same?
We're a handful of minutes away from tipoff between the No. 4 Rainbow Warriors and No. 5 Cal State Northridge at the Honda Center in Anaheim. UC Irvine is in the process of banishing UC Riverside in the 1-8 game.
Irvine has the best fan showing thus far, with a couple thousand in house. I'm hearing the UH crowd will be a little better than last year's respectable showing of a few hundred; we'll see how that bears out.
UH's body language was poor throughout its first-round loss to the Anteaters in last year's quarterfinal; the team had lost back-to-back games going in and the all-conference awards (Christian Standhardinger first-team, Vander Joaquim honorable mention) exacerbated some existing divisions within the team.
The Rainbows' chemistry has remained solid all season thus far and getting Standhardinger and Isaac Fotu on the first team together should only help matters.
This should be an exciting, fast-paced contest between the two highest-scoring teams in the conference. Should UH prevail and reach a conference semifinal for the first time since the 2012 WAC semis, you'd have to like UH chances of another victory against Long Beach State; though the 49ers swept the regular-season games, they by no means looked like a superior team.
Every preseason suicide sprint, every inbounding drill, every chew-out by coaches all comes down to a 40-minute season. Now we all find out if UH has what it takes to be a true contender in the Big West.