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Gary’s Hoop Scoops: A Look Ahead

I love college basketball. I love our team, the UH Rainbow Warriors. Win or lose, that’s still our team. I also, like all of us, realize that sports have taken a backseat these days with what’s going on in the world today. I truly mean this when I say that I can’t wait until we are back to normal, when everything is back to the way it was.

I hope and pray that everyone reading this is safe and doing well. As I mentioned last week, a lot of emotions are being felt these days – feelings and thoughts that I’ve never felt before. I know sports isn’t the priority here. But I also know that sports can be an escape from a lot of things. Sports has always given me pleasure, something to look forward to. I think our ‘Bows can give us a lot to look forward to and help us enjoy our lives as well. And because the Big West tournament was over before it began, I think it’ll  mean that much more next season. And I’m glad we will have a next season. This team should be a contender again in the Big West Conference. Let’s look at next season and see what this team might have.

College basketball teams always hope to reload, not rebuild. Rebuilding could take a year or two, and by that time, some of the star players could be gone already. For the last several years, I like that what Eran Ganot has built here.  Hawaii is a team that is always reloading; there are usually two, maybe three key players that are seniors and moving on. There always seems to be a good nucleus of players coming back next year. And that is the case once again with UH.

It’s pretty easy to envision next season’s backcourt. PG Drew Buggs returns for his senior season. Drew had to deal with a lot this year, including his Mom passing away at the start of the season and some injuries that hampered him down the stretch. Still, he led the league in assists for the second straight season. Justin  Webster will start at the 2, or shooting guard spot. J-Web had as good of a freshman year as any ‘Bow in recent memory, maybe since Issac Fotu. This backcourt will be as good, if not better, than any in the Big West.

Samuta Avea will be back for his senior season. When his back wasn’t bothering him, he showed a lot of improvement this past year. He averaged around 11 points a game and his three-point shooting improved big time, as evidenced by the game winner he hit at UC Davis in early March. Muta can play the 3 or the 4. I like him more at the 3, the small forward spot. With his shooting and athleticism, he can score from both the outside or down low, which means he’ll usually win his matchups.

I see Bernardo DeSilva starting as well. He could be a 4 or a 5. With one year under his belt, I see him as a guy who will show a lot of improvement next year. His lack of experience this year was the only thing holding him back. He’s got a lot of talent and natural ability.

I am curious as to who will be the fifth starter. Dawson Carper got the nod for most of this past season, but got benched down the stretch. He’ll have to show he’s stronger and more efficient down low. It’s his job to win or lose, but he’ll really have to earn it. I’m excited to see what Justin Hemsley can offer next year. To me, he was the most improved player this past season. If he can take the next step, he could start or get major minutes off the bench. Having a deep bench can make the difference whether Hawaii makes the postseason or not. The depth should be fine next year with Hemsley, Mate Colina and Kameron Ng being contributors. And we will finally see guard Junior Madut on the court as well. I would think one that one of the new recruits will step up as well. Let’s see who that might be.

I’m not big on fans being critical of this team or program without knowing everything about the game or what’s involved with some decisions. With what’s going on in the world right now, maybe we all can be a little more patient, and humble, and realize that there are more important things in life than being upset about a basketball game.

But yelling at the refs? No, that’s gotta remain. We gotta have at least that, don’t we?

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