Friday, December 19, 2014

Rainbows go back to Blaisdell

The history resonates on both sides.

When Hawaii takes on Chaminade at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center on Friday night, it will be a throwback to old days in local hoops lore.

UH played all its home games in the Blaisdell for 27 seasons, between 1967 to 1994, spanning the Fab Five era to Trevor Ruffin's banked top-arc 3 to beat BYU at the buzzer in '94.

Since the completion of the on-campus Special Events Arena (rebranded the Stan Sheriff Center), the Rainbow Warriors haven't been back.

On Division II Chaminade's side, it's only what's considered by many to be the greatest upset in college basketball history. Back on Dec. 23, 1982, Chaminade defeated top-ranked Virginia and Ralph Sampson at the NBC, a seminal moment that helped lead to the creation of the Maui Invitational.

"It has the sense of a lot of history to it," said Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird, gazing around the interior of the 7,500-seat venue for the first time on Thursday.

The Silverswords last played at the Blaisdell in 2011, but boast other signature wins there in the early 1980s against Louisville (twice), SMU and Hawaii.

"I'll have to bring that up to the guys," Bovaird said. "It's already been done, so go ahead and do it again."

Chaminade (4-5) is technically the home team on Friday, with the wrinkle that it counts as an exhibition for the Silverswords but a regular game for the Rainbow Warriors. This will be the fourth Division I team the 'Swords face; they went 0-3 against Pittsburgh, BYU and Missouri on Maui last month.

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