HONOLULU — The University of Hawaii men’s basketball team is preparing to make its customary appearance on a neighbor island, and it might not be such a layup.
The Rainbow Warriors will play Chaminade at 7 p.m. Saturday at Kauai High School gym in Lihue.
This is the fourth straight season UH has scheduled at least one game on a neighbor island: In December 2011, the Rainbow Warriors defeated UH-Hilo 79-66 at Kealakehe High School. UH also played games in Lahaina and Kahului on Maui in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and held off Chaminade, 104-93, on Molokai last December.
Rainbow Warriors coach Gib Arnold has said he would like to play on a neighbor island every year to showcase the program and help build a statewide fan base.
But Chaminade (4-3) does not represent an automatic victory for Hawaii. The Silverswords had a strong showing in their own Maui Invitational two weeks ago, trailing No. 18-ranked Baylor by only three points (50-47) at halftime before losing, 93-77. Senior guard Christophe Varidel, a transfer who scored 11 points in Florida Gulf Coast’s NCAA Tournament second-round upset of San Diego State last season, finished with 10 three-point goals and 42 points vs. Baylor.
The Silverswords also played well against Minnesota, leading 42-37 at halftime and 64-62 with under eight minutes remaining before falling, 83-68.
Hawaii (6-2) has won four straight games and is coming off a 76-66 victory at Northern Arizona. Junior guard Garrett Nevels led the way with a game-high 24 points, Keith Shamburger added 15 points and Brandon Spearman finished with 13 points.
WAHINE HOOPSTERS ON ROAD
The UH women’s basketball team, meanwhile, hits the road for a two-game swing at Oregon State on Friday and Pacific on Sunday.
The Rainbow Wahine are 5-3 and took last week off after a thrilling 77-71 overtime victory over Minnesota at the Stan Sheriff Center. Former Punahou standout Shawna-Lei Kuehu sent the game into OT by banking in a 3-pointer from the left wing at the regulation buzzer.
Junior guard Ashleigh Karaitiana led the way with 22 points, Kuehu added 19 points and Kamilah Jackson finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The victory earned UH first place in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown; Jackson and Karaitiana each were named to the All-Tournament Team.
SHOJI TO ANNOUNCE DECISION NEXT WEEK
UH women’s volleyball coach Dave Shoji, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history, told the “Bobby Curran Show” on Wednesday morning that he will make an official announcement sometime next week on his decision whether to return for a 40th season.
Shoji, who reportedly has two years remaining on his contract, said he will meet with the team this week and solidify his decision before making an official statement next week.
The 11th-ranked Rainbow Wahine were eliminated in the NCAA Tournament second round last weekend with a sweep by No. 21 Brigham Young at the Stan Sheriff Center.
MEN’S VOLLEYBALL OPENS AT NO. 13
After finishing last season at No. 13, the Rainbow Warriors will open the season at the same spot, according to the AVCA Division I-II Preseason Poll.
Hawaii returns five starters — including top hitters Brook Sedore and Sinisa Zarkovic. It opens the season by hosting the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Invitational from Jan. 9 through 11. UCLA, Penn State and No. 12 Ohio State are also in the field.
CHOW LETS TWO GO
As expected, football coach Norm Chow made changes to his staff on Tuesday, announcing that defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer and linebackers coach Tony Tuioti will not be retained.
The Rainbow Warriors defense struggled throughout a 1-11 season, especially during the last two games in which it allowed a combined 101 points (14 touchdowns) and nearly 1,200 yards against Wyoming and Army — teams that finished 5-7 and 3-9, respectively.
UH finished ranked No. 115 out of 123 NCAA Division I teams in total defense, allowing 494.7 yards per game. The Rainbow Warriors were 105th in run defense (213.6) – allowing 100-yard rushers in the last eight games — 117th in pass defense (281.1 ypg) and 113th in scoring defense (38.8 points per game).
“This is a cruel and difficult profession,” Chow said in a school statement. “Thom and Tony are good friends of mine and good coaches and good men who worked extremely hard these last two years. I thank them and wish them well as we all move forward.”
Chow said an immediate search will begin to fill the two positions and also the opening at offensive coordinator, created when newly hired Aaron Price abruptly left the program in August.
The first day recruits will be allowed to sign and submit National Letters of Intent is Feb. 5 — less than eight weeks away.