It has been a phenomenal year for Hawaii men’s basketball, and with two games left in the regular season, the Rainbow Warriors have a chance to mark their place in the record books alongside the most accomplished teams in school history.
With a pair of road wins, Eran Ganot’s unit would match the record of the 2001-2002 team which went onto the NCAA tournament. Two wins would also result in the fewest losses since the glory days of the Fab-Five back in the 1971-72 season.
Comparatively speaking, how does this year’s team stack up with the other historic UH teams?
“I’ve seen the brilliance on the floor, just everybody stepping up to the plate and doing what they need to do,” said Phil Martin, member of the 2001-2002 team. “I see a lot of that in our team in comparing and that was a big thing for us--that grit and toughness, that spark, and it looks like they have really good chemistry out there among each other. We had a lot of that and that’s really key.”
According to Artie Wilson, who was a part of that 1971-72 team, the similarities between the Rainbow Warriors then and now go beyond the hardwood.
“When it came time to play in games we rallied together, we came together, we tried to perform as one,” Wilson said. “I think this team is trying to do the same thing. They come together, really like each other. They respect each other and they play for each other.”
It is that dedication to teamwork that has put the current Rainbow Warriors in a position to potentially break the school record for wins in a single season, set by Martin and his teammates 14 years ago.
“When I came into the University of Hawaii, I looked at the history and the players before me and I respected all of that,” Martin said. “We wanted to exceed those expectations—definitely a motivation. So, I think what they need to do is look at us and say well they were good and great and this is a new time, new era.”
Making their mark on history won’t be the only motivation the ‘Bows will have this week. One win on this two game road trip solidifies the program’s first conference title since 2002, the top seed in the Big West Tournament, and an automatic berth to the NIT Tournament.
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