HONOLULU — The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors will host the ninth annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic at Stan Sheriff Center, which begins on December 22nd.
Hawai’i will play the 9-0 Miami Hurricanes, who are coming into the game being one of only four undefeated teams left in NCAA Division I. Hawai’i is considered a 14-point underdog in this match-up.
The Rainbow Warriors are coming off of one of their best defensive games of the season, as head coach Eran Ganot had this to say after their win against Utah Valley via ESPN.com.
“Certainly our best defensive performance of the year, particularly against an elite offensive team,” Ganot said. “We had our best defensive performance against the best offensive team.”
The home team will have to be able to handle all of Miami’s talent and size, as those two factors will more than likely decide the ball game.
On Miami’s talent heavy roster, they have two potential first round picks come June, as Lonnie Walker IV and Bruce Brown Jr. are both key pieces of the Hurricanes’ rotation.
With their combined stats, they are averaging 20.6 points, 11 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.
Hawai’i has their own one-two punch, as senior forwards Michael Thomas and Gibson Johnson lead the team in points and rebounds. They are averaging a combined 23.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per contest.
Size is going to be a huge factor, as Hawai’i has not dealt well against team’s with bigger players than them.
Exhibit A, the 80-60 loss in the Utah game. Hawai’i lost the rebounding battle, 46-32, as well as hitting a mere 18.2% of their attempts from three point range.
The Rainbow Warriors currently only have one player that is 6’9 or higher, which is Ido Flaisher at 6’10, who is averaging only 9.0 minutes per game.
Miami has five players that are either 6’9”, or taller, on their roster. This will be a huge factor when it comes to the offensive and defensive rebounding in this game.
Hawai’i has been historically good in this tournament, and they will try and make it an even better record in the 2017 edition of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
– T. Zust