Things looking much different in UH universe

If we have learned anything over the past week, it’s that results aren’t always as predictable as we might like to believe. Whether it’s exit polling or point spreads, upsets happen, shifts occur and the norm quickly becomes abnormal.

Just this past Saturday in college football, No. 2 Clemson lost as a 21-point favorite, No. 3 Michigan lost as a 24-point favorite and No. 4 Washington lost as a 10-point favorite. It’s the first time in 31 years that three of the top-four lost on the same day.

I say this because it’s a reminder to enjoy the highs, since the lows are often inevitable. For a program like the University of Hawaii, the lows are usually much more consistent.

That’s why last year was such a revelation and such a joy for the UH men’s basketball program. For many Rainbow Warrior fans, it truly was a once-in-a-lifetime type of season. Rookie head coach Eran Ganot took a really talented team to a conference title and the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament win.

For non-power programs like UH, one season to the next can feel like a different universe, but rarely is it ever as drastic as the facelift performed on Hawaii from 2015 to 2016. The 2016-17 season is underway and the ‘Bows are starting to build completely from the ground up.

Sophomore guard Sheriff Drammeh is the team’s leading returning scorer — having averaged a minuscule 1.7 points per game a season ago. That’s right, the team’s most accomplished returning scorer from last year could increase his scoring average nightly with a single layup. 2

Forward Mike Thomas was expected to be the lone returning starter, but offseason wrist surgery will force him to redshirt the season, hopefully to return for one more go in 2017-18.

The ‘Bows might still be exciting and fun to watch, but their level of play this season is probably going to make last season seem even that much more special in hindsight. Stefan Jankovic scoring every which way, Roderick Bobbitt picking point guards’ pockets, Aaron Valdes throwing down a monstrous alley-oop; they were all nightly occurrences we took for granted.

The same can be said for Hawaii football, which has come back to earth (with a bit of a thud) after starting conference play 3-1. The ‘Bows have now lost three straight in fairly ugly fashion, punctuated by a pair of losses the past two weeks with a combined score of 107-16. Coach Nick Rolovich was so disgusted with his team’s execution during the first half against Boise State on Saturday that he had the benches removed from his players’ sideline.

They probably could have removed some from the stands and barely any fans would have noticed.

It was a striking turn from what had been one of the program’s best starts in recent years.

Hawaii still has a chance to finish with a .500 mark in Mountain West play, which would still be a positive achievement in Rolovich’s rookie campaign at the helm. But it does go to show that we should probably do more to savor the good times. Enjoy the moments of unbridled enthusiasm and try to retain that feeling for those days when they are merely memories.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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