A significant portion of Maui County has had multiple chances in recent years to merely take a drive and watch the University of Hawaii men's basketball team in person.
Fans on Molokai, however, have always needed to board a plane or boat to be in the stands - until today. The Rainbow Warriors will face Chaminade at "The Barn" in Hoolehua at 7:30 p.m. in the first official game for any UH team on the Friendly Isle.
"We're really excited to do this," said 'Bows forward Hauns Brereton. "We want to play really hard."
Brandyn Akana of Kaunakakai is in his third season as an assistant coach at Hawaii.
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII photo
Hawaii assistant coach Brandyn Akana is from Kaunakakai.
"I've talked to them about it. I've explained about the island," Akana said. "We did have a team bonding trip about a month ago, so the players had an opportunity to see the island and see what it's all about."
Hawaii is 11-5 against other college teams in games played in Hawaii but off Oahu, including a 6-2 record on Maui.
RAINBOW WARRIORS ON MAUI
Dec. 7, 1983, at Lahaina-UNLV 90, Hawaii 87
x-Dec. 8, 1989, at Lahaina-Hawaii 86, George Washington 64
x-Dec. 9, 1989, at Lahaina-Hawaii 86, Colorado 77
y-Nov. 24, 2003, at Lahaina-Hawaii 56, Santa Clara 43
y-Nov. 25, 2003, at Lahaina-Hawaii 68, Chaminade 54
y-Nov. 26, 2003, at Lahaina-Dayton 82, Hawaii 72
Dec. 17, 2010, at Lahaina-Hawaii 86, Chicago St. 57
Dec. 18, 2011, at Wailuku-Hawaii 65, N. Carolina A&T 57
x-Early Season Tournament
y-EA Sports Maui Invitational
Army 96, Maine 67
Miami 77, Charlotte 46
Mississippi 77, ETSU 55
UCF 75, Old Dominion 71
Boise St. 89, LSU 70
Cal Poly 60, E. New Mexico 57
Portland 95, Portland Bible 66
* * *
Campbell 77, Md.-Eastern Shore 72
Louisiana Tech 61, Oral Roberts 59
Memphis 80, Alabama A&M 57
North Florida 52, Jacksonville St. 45
Ill.-Chicago 90, Roosevelt 67
Colorado 70, Louisville 66
Idaho St. 70, Carroll (Mont.) 38
Pepperdine 70, Seattle 64
Portland 76, Fresno St. 69
Wyoming 77, Weber St. 62
"(Molokai residents) just don't get the opportunity to see college players in an NCAA game," said Akana, in his third season on the staff. "I know they watch UH on television, so this will be great. To actually get to see them in person, it's going to be a huge event."
The 'Bows (4-3), who lost for the third time in four games on Saturday against Pepperdine at the Stan Sheriff Center, arrived on Molokai on Friday afternoon, and will leave Sunday.
"It's definitely a business trip, but at the same time, it's hard not to think back, just all the people I was able to learn from and things like that," Akana said. "It's who I am today, is from experience on Molokai. I'm going to see past coaches, good teachers, a lot of good friends, a lot of family members."
The Silverswords make annual visits to Maui, and to the Big Island to face Pacific West Conference rival UH-Hilo, but today's trip will be something new for them, too.
"For us to get out and brand the name Chaminade across all the islands is important to us," said coach Eric Bovaird. "I like the thought of just getting out. It's a great opportunity for our fans who don't get to see us. It's something we hope to keep going."
The game itself is hardly a foregone conclusion - the Silverswords are 3-6, but one of those victories was over Texas in the first round of this year's EA Sports Maui Invitational.
Chaminade's De'Andre Haskins and Kevin Hu returned from two-game absences in Friday's 74-65 loss to Cedarville. Haskins suffered a strained medial collateral ligament during a loss to North Carolina in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational - he was an all-tournament selection, and is averaging 19.4 points per game overall this season. Hu had been sidelined after suffering a concussion in practice.
Brereton is one of four UH players averaging double-digit points. The statistical leaders are Christian Standhardinger (16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds), and Vander Joaquim (14.3 points, 7.6 rebounds).
"I think UH has a really good, well-rounded team," Bovaird said. "We don't come across a really good 7-footer like Vander Joaquim (who is listed as 6-10). That will be a unique challenge for us playing him. We play against some really good guards, some really good forwards, but we don't see a lot of guys like him. Our biggest guys are 6-8. He's basically 7-foot and carries a lot of power. He'll probably be one of the biggest projects for us to have to deal with."
* Brad Sherman is at email@example.com