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Sunday, December 21, 2014         

FURTHER REVIEW


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Centenary-UH a better fit as a season-opening series

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:



Hawaii baseball finally got over the .500 hump with its 5-0 win over Centenary yesterday. A victory today for a four-game sweep would be huge as the Rainbows (10-9) prepare to host No. 13 Cal State Fullerton (11-7) and No. 26 Wichita State (13-6) in back-to-back series before the WAC schedule starts.

This series against the Gents, who fell to 3-9, has helped UH finally get some momentum going and fatten some starving batting averages.

I know schedule-making is ridiculously difficult, and it's great for the attendance to have big-name powerhouse programs like Oregon and Texas come to town early in the season.

It may have been impossible for various reasons, but I would've liked to have seen the Rainbows open against a program of Centenary's level so that the players making the transition to Division I pitching could build some confidence, instead of cutting their teeth against some of the primo arms the Ducks and Longhorns brought to town.

Kolten Wong at shortstop is interesting; he lost his footing on one play yesterday, but also started a double play that featured a nifty turn by Jesse Moore at second. Add in Moore's six total bases yesterday, and this sometimes-pitcher, sometimes-infielder should always be on the field somewhere.

» It wasn't a concern for yesterday's day game played under beautiful sunny skies, but it's deplorable that the condition of the lights in left field at Les Murakami Stadium was allowed to erode to the point that only around half of the bulbs still work.

Depending on whom you talk to, the dim situation means there are blind spots for the left fielders, or it doesn't affect play at all. If the latter is the case, hopefully we won't find out how many lights have to be out for it to affect the game, and, more importantly, create a safety hazard.

Athletic director Jim Donovan said upper campus has approved a "rush procurement," and the replacement lights are expected to arrive from the mainland in late April or early May.

"The lights will be replaced before the end of the season, according to plan," Donovan said.

The problem was discovered a couple of weeks before the season started. Donovan said a contractor told him heavy rain likely shorted the electricity to the affected lights.

UH should have had backup units available, or been able to expedite securing the replacements. It's been nearly two months since it was known so many lights were out.

» To those who voiced the misguided opinion that UH had no business in any postseason basketball tournament: Perhaps you might reconsider if you recall how tough the Rainbows played in a 70-62 loss to Florida State in the Diamond Head Classic. The Seminoles made it into the Sweet 16 yesterday with their convincing 71-57 win over No. 2 seed Notre Dame.

Now, I'm not saying a home loss in December means UH is six points better than the fifth-ranked team in the country — just that the Rainbows had a fine season and are headed in the right direction despite the way things ended Saturday.

» The UH softball team is 22-9, which translates to a healthy .710 winning percentage. But the Wahine have lost four in a row, scoring just two runs in the process.

This team is still loaded with talent, and Bob Coolen is an outstanding veteran coach who can get things turned around.

What many feared from the beginning of the season, however, seems to be true: There's a transition period under way as the team chemistry adjusts to the loss of four senior starters whose experience helped UH to its first College World Series appearance last year.

» Who out there had Virginia Commonwealth getting this far? Come forth and take a bow.

Now that the Rainbows are done for the year, maybe Hawaii fans can get behind a team coached by a guy named Shaka Smart.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.






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