Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Rainbows just have to
stay on the cycle

WE should have known. You could have seen the Nevada loss coming and predicted the Fresno win -- in retrospect, of course. It falls right into a pattern (play great for several games in a row, have the bottom drop out, play great again, repeat).

So now, perhaps, we have it figured out. Just in time for this wild ride called the conference tournament. And beyond.

Nevada was simply San Jose State II. It was merely time for another fall from grace against a team Hawaii should have beaten, only to come back from the loss better than before.

But these Rainbows are so good, we forgot -- they made us really believe they would conquer the world.

(Being on assignment on the Big Island was the only thing that saved me from writing: "These guys are fabulous. They've shown us that now, they've finally reached the highest level of Hawaii basketball, finally earned that elusive title." Which would have exposed me as a complete moron.)

But they are that good, they can conquer the world, if the timing is right.

Is it? We're about to find out.

They're playing great again. (Still being on assignment on the Big Island was the only thing that kept me from: "They blew it. Which is a cruel and unfair thing to say, but true nonetheless." Twenty-four hours later ... moron.)

After the stunning rebound at Fresno State, all signs now point to another sizzling streak. The question now is how long it will last.

The WAC tournament is three games in three days, and the best team in the tournament is Hawaii. There's no reason not to consider them the favorite to repeat.

But that would be three games' worth of streak, four total. In UH's five streaks (not including the current one-game streak started Saturday at Fresno) Hawaii has averaged 4.8 wins a pop.

If UH wins the WAC, and goes to the NCAAs, it would be perilously close to the end of its average run. Perhaps this is the wrong time to start winning.

Coaches hate this line of logic because it can't even enter their thinking -- their only option is to win every night, especially at schools like Hawaii. Duke can have an off day and stay up in the polls and point to the postseason. The Rainbows need to win 25 games just to get noticed.

And their handful of losses this season have screeched their national momentum to a halt, before the next game got them roaring again.

The Rainbows have shown that as good as they can be -- and they've been breathtaking -- every so often they need an occasional break from greatness.

It happens. Some days, you just don't have it. And if that's going to happen eventually, the WAC tournament, after a win or two, is the final pit stop. The last chance to re-boot, regroup and fire up the pumpkinmobile.

These guys have a team that can make it into the Sweet 16. But their recent history says the timing has to be right.

And so it all hinges on where they are in the cycle at the start of the dance -- the beginning, middle or end of a streak.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

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