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Fine seasons by UH teams not hurt by fizzling finishes

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:53 a.m. HST, May 30, 2011



As human beings and sports fans, we tend to remember what happens last. That's too bad for the University of Hawaii athletic department. Overall, UH had a fine 2010-11 sports year. But even some of the best UH teams didn't leave the best final impression.

It's often a nature of the beast sort of thing; take the baseball team as an example. Even if the Rainbows somehow get picked today for an at-large spot in the regionals, that would mean they're among the final 64 teams playing ... and all but one of those teams will end their season with a loss.

Of course, any kind of regionals performance would be a preferable final lasting memory for the Rainbows to Saturday's 15-4 loss to Fresno State for the WAC tournament championship and the automatic bid to the NCAAs that goes with it. That game wasn't indicative of the kind of heart the Rainbows played with this season, but that's very likely how it ends.

No one sees a regular-season WAC championship and very strong nonconference schedule overcoming UH's good but less-than-gaudy 34-25 overall record. Ironically, the persuasive abilities of the coach whose team likely ended the Rainbows' season is the last hope in extending it. Fresno State's Mike Batesole is on the selection committee and folks tell us he lobbied for his fellow WAC member.

Some of Hawaii's big-name opponents didn't perform as well as expected, and that affected the team's Rating Percentage Index adversely. A little bit better RPI, and the Rainbows' season might not likely be on its way to RIP.

Even after fielding two fairly recent national champions (Fresno State, 2008, and Rice, 2003) the WAC just doesn't get much respect in baseball. UH won't have to deal with that after next season, as it moves to the baseball-rich Big West.

Will Mike Trapasso be around as UH's coach for that first year in the Dream League with Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and the rest? Seems like a silly question considering the outstanding job he's done the past two years in guiding the Rainbows to a WAC tourney win in 2010 and now the first regular-season championship since 1992.

But in the deal agreed to after last season, an extension to 2013 is contingent on UH making it to the postseason either this year or next. Note to athletic director Jim Donovan: Roll it over, anyway, now, so the 2011 WAC coach of the year can guarantee recruits he'll be around for the Big West maiden voyage.

SO LET'S TAKE a wide-lens view at how some of UH's other high-profile sports did this year.
Football, 10 wins and a piece of the WAC championship. Volleyball, WAC regular-season championship. Basketball, 19-win season.

All, including baseball, had pretty good seasons. And they all produced more revenue than expenses.
There are people, though — even some who consider themselves fans — who will misguidedly consider these teams failures because of how they finished.

The Wahine uncharacteristically failed to win the WAC volleyball tournament, and then exited early from the NCAAs. Football took a licking from Tulsa in the Hawaii Bowl. Basketball suffered a last-minute meltdown against San Francisco in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. And you know what happened Saturday in Mesa to the baseball team.

Last year around this time UH was putting the finishing touches on a great spring that included the softball team going to the College World Series for the first time, the Rainbows in the baseball regionals and Amber Kaufman winning a national championship in the high jump.

The Wahine softball team missed the chemistry provided by four starting seniors last year and didn't make it into the regionals this spring. Kaufman was in a car accident and couldn't come back to defend her title.

Let's just say the bar's been raised for UH sports because of its own continued success. And, for the most part, the Warriors, Rainbows and Wahine cleared it in 2010-11 even though they didn't save the best for last this time.

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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