HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Big West announced its men's basketball preseason poll with the defending league champion University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors picked to finish in eighth place.
Long Beach State, runner-up to UH in last year's Big West Tournament, is the overwhelming favorite to win the league, receiving 19 of a possible 23 first-place votes. UC Irvine, who shared the regular-season title with the 'Bows last year with a 13-3 mark, was picked to finish second and garnered one first-place vote. CSUN received two first-place votes to come in third.
The Rainbow Warriors, who did receive one first-place vote in the poll, return just four letterwinners from last year's squad that produced a school-record 28-6 record. Senior forward Mike Thomas, who started all 34 games last year, is set to redshirt this year. That leaves UH without a single returning starter from last year's NCAA Tournament squad. The 'Bows will field an entirely new starting lineup this year, something which hasn't happened in nearly four decades.
Hawai'i is more than three weeks into practice under the direction of second-year head coach Eran Ganot. Ten newcomers join this year's squad made up of five freshman, four junior college transfers and one Division I transfer. The 'Bows look to transfers Noah Allen, Gibson Johnson, and Larry Lewis Jr. for an immediate impact, as well as redshirt sophomore Jack Purchase, who sat out for the Rainbow Warriors last year as a Division I transfer.
The 'Bows host an exhibition game versus BYU-Hawaii on Thursday, Nov. 3, before tipping off the season on Friday, Nov. 11 against Southern Illinois Edwardsville in the Outrigger Rainbow Classic.
2016 Big West Preseason Media Poll
1. Long Beach State (19) - 203 points
2. UC Irvine (1)- 158
3. CSUN (2) - 155
4. UC Santa Barbara - 147
5. UC Davis - 88
6. Cal State Fullerton - 83
7. UC Riverside - 76
8. Hawai'i - 73 (1)
9. Cal Poly - 52
Hawaii Athletics Release