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Tuesday, April 15, 2014         

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Some University of Hawaii baseball fans have understandably lost their sense of humor with the home team dropping six consecutive conference games in its own park the past two weekends. The catcalls were scattered but loud toward the end of the latest defeat Sunday.

Back in the 1990s I spent a surreal and enjoyable afternoon at a friend's home playing a college basketball video game with some Rainbow Warriors players ... with the student-athletes often manipulating representations of themselves and their teammates on the screen.

My, oh my. The sky is falling because Hawaii won't host the Pro Bowl in 2015, and maybe not in 2017, as well. How will we ever survive this calamity? Wait, a second there …

Today we look at one from the Be Careful What You Ask For Department. Basketball coach Gib Arnold has made the only public statements regarding the NCAA's investigation of his University of Hawaii program.

One of those old-fashioned rock'em sock'em, backyard brawl, end-of-the-series college baseball games broke out Sunday at Murakami Stadium. It was the kind you saw a lot more often when the balls and the bats weren't so pitcher-friendly.

"Unique" is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot, often inaccurately. But University of Hawaii football player Scott Harding is truly one of a kind.

After the incident at University of Hawaii football practice Tuesday morning, I was asked by UH sports media relations director Derek Inouchi if I'd be willing to meet with coach Norm Chow to "clear the air."

See you at practice, Coach Chow. You don't have to talk to me, that's your choice. But you can't bar me from watching your University of Hawaii football team practice and from writing about the Rainbow Warriors the good things and the bad.

A regional National Labor Relations Board ruling allowing one college football team to unionize is the first move in what will be a very long, complicated and drawn-out process.

Ken Wagner is a man of faith, but he lives in the real world. So, with Brigham Young-Hawaii's intercollegiate athletic program slated for extinction in three years he hopes for the best and ... well you know the rest.

Usually, baseball guys are baseball guys and soccer guys are soccer guys and never the twain shall meet. But the Star-Bulletin's Al Chase was both.

It’s March 26. Do you know where your 2015 Pro Bowl is? Unless the NFL pulls a surprise flea-flicker in the final minutes Wednesday, its annual meetings will have ended without a decision of where its all-star game will be played after the upcoming season.

Two keys when analyzing University of Hawaii baseball as it heads into Big West competition are SOS and TBA. They staggered into port at 16-35, with just four more wins than UH has now less than halfway through the 2014 campaign.

Some University of Hawaii basketball fans are embarrassed that the conference its team plays in, the Big West, was represented in the NCAA Tournament by Cal Poly, a team with an overall losing record, finishing at 14-20.

Laura Beeman can coach and everyone on the West Coast knows it. The Pac-12 was already well aware of her as an assistant at USC and as a longtime junior college head coach at Mt. San Antonio.

The NCAA is coming to town. No, not for a convention. To investigate. In person. And you don't have to be old enough to remember The Cutter Four and Bruce O'Neil and Rick Pitino (yeah, that guy) and Paul Durham and a bunch of banned boosters to realize that this is at best not a good thing and at worst a very bad thing for University of Hawaii basketball.

After what happened Friday and Saturday, Hawaii needed a complete game to beat Nevada on Sunday. That usually means a starting pitcher going the distance, pitching all nine innings or however many is needed to finish the job.

A 30,000-seat stadium where the University of Hawaii football team would play its games is not a new idea. Coach June Jones envisioned one back in 2001.

As worthy of outrage as it is, the Ching Field fiasco invites cynicism as we are never surprised by blown deadlines and cost overruns common to construction projects, especially state-run ones.

There’s no contract extension for the Rainbow Warriors seniors, but the gritty 81-77 win Saturday that nearly slipped away twice refuels hope for at least some UH fans that their team can heat up and make a run through this week’s Big West tournament.

Reggie Torres is no longer the head football coach at Kahuku High School. And the prep sports scene in Hawaii is the worse for it. The Red Raiders don't just lose a fine coach, we all lose the lasting impact of a leader who develops character and discipline in youth.

Don't let anyone tell you assistant basketball coach Brandyn Akana's absence from the University of Hawaii bench is "nothing," as head coach Gib Arnold has said even though that is exactly what UH officials can tell us about why Akana is gone zilch.

That new scoreboard can't get to Les Murakami Stadium soon enough. The old one had the University of Hawaii leading Albany 26-5 Sunday. It was an error (and we've seen enough of those already, haven't we?).

It was another Saturday Night Special for Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors have now won six weekend games in a row. They just need to get Thursdays figured out a little better.

Lenn Sakata says he has become a dinosaur. But he's far from extinct. No-nonsense teachers of baseball aren't always warm and fuzzy, but when they're as good at it as Sakata they remain in demand.

Anyone who watched him play was in awe of what Al Noga produced on the football field while competing for the University of Hawaii in the 1980s. He dominated thoroughly, and there is no doubt Noga was one of the five greatest players in UH history.

Instead of Rice — a perennial power that swept UH last year on the way to an NCAA Super Regional appearance — Hawaii gets to host Albany next week. The Great Danes went 23-25-1 in 2013, and are expected to be about the same this season.

Don and Scott Robbs have partnered for University of Hawaii baseball broadcasts in the past, but they’ll be a team on a nightly basis now. They feel fortunate to work together — and both feel lucky to be alive.

A friend who has lived here longer than most of us have been alive describes the state of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii as "dueling hypocrisies," entities that are supposed to work together to benefit the tax payers who fund them but instead mire themselves in empty rhetoric, gridlock politics and endless finger-pointing.

Usually those final few seconds of a win where there's almost no way the visitors come back are tantalizingly sweet. But when it's an opponent that has figured out ways to beat you five times in a row, they're agonizingly endless.

Former University of Hawaii sharpshooter Michael Kuebler made a rare appearance at the Stan Sheriff Center on Thursday night. It's too bad the Rainbow Warriors couldn't suit him up.

There should be a rule: If a guy is the offensive AND defensive high school football player of the year, that state's college football team should be at his doorstep with a scholarship offer.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should take that Pro Bowl concept of unconferencing and adapt it for the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Some people will tell you a team with two starting quarterbacks means you actually have none. The contention is because it's a leadership position you need a clear No. 1. And marketing people will say you shouldn't have two different team nicknames, it makes for confusion.

There are no must-wins, not yet. The Big West is going to get only one team into the NCAA Tournament, and it will be the squad that wins the conference tourney. Hawaii could still do that.

In Hawaii we learn self-sufficiency but also to help one another. We make do with less, but know innately about strength in numbers and the concept of “lokahi,” which loosely translates to things are better for all when everyone does their part, the aloha spirit version of synergy.

Yeah, we got jokes. Plenty. Like how the biggest hit was dished out by the Texans cheerleader on her own team's mascot, or that Team Not Here could beat Team Rice or Team Sanders.

People keep asking me for a prediction. Not for a Pro Bowl final score, but for the location of the game in future years. You don't have to be a genius to make an educated guess.

Our resident draft guru Curtis Murayama and I could surely do as well as Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders at picking teams. Hey, we used to do this kind of stuff when they were rookies, not gray-bearded Hall of Famers and Pro Bowl alumni captains.

New Jersey or Waikiki in the dead of winter. Easy choice, right? Yes, but for Stephen Gostkowski and his professional colleagues congregating here this week, the answer is the opposite of just about everyone else's.

Maybe in 20 years all will be forgiven between Michael Crabtree and Richard Sherman and they will yuck it up together and draft the Pro Bowl teams.

Now, that was a great Super Bowl. Wait now, you're telling me the guacamole dip game is not for another two weeks? But the Pro Bowl is this Sunday … oh, OK, never mind.

It's really not that hard to find the potential cloud in a 100-69 win for the home team. Here it is: UC Riverside is not a good basketball team, not good at all.

Is it wrong to make a mockery of a mockery? I say no, and if Deion Sanders really wants to play in the Pro Bowl ... hey go for it. After all, isn't this the football game where tackling is a farce, kind of like Neon Deion's always was, even during Prime Time's prime?

He recently turned 30 and his numbers have declined at the plate, the .232 last year was 21 points below his career average. But Kurt Suzuki is still a strong commodity — at least the Minnesota Twins believe so, and they recently signed him to a $2.75 million contract for 2014.

Jimmy Walker came a long way to win the Sony Open in Hawaii. Yes, there are the 3,688 miles from his residence near San Antonio to Waialae Country Club in Kahala.

Some of the cheers emanating from Waialae Country Club today might have nothing to do with the final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii. The Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers kick off at 11:40 a.m., just a few minutes before the first group of legitimate contenders for the golf tournament's championship.

Eric Stojkovich stares toward the green at hole No. 11, straight into the morning sun gleaming over the sparkling Pacific Ocean. John Daly stands about 5 feet from him, and his shot from the tee is straight and true.

When your football program is in the condition of the University of Hawaii's, your options are somewhat limited when hiring assistant coaches.

Before more talk about "freezing" here in paradise because the temperature's dipped into the 60s overnight recently, let's consider the NFL playoffs.

My friend Jayne Wenger has a long history of working in theater and likes to go to plays sometimes for relaxation. So when I told her that I planned to watch a game at the Stan Sheriff Center on my day off Friday, she knew the term for it: "Busman's Holiday."

Live TV is just too easy an alternative to buying tickets and showing up. As I looked around the Stan Sheriff Center on Monday night, I wondered where all the University of Hawaii fans might be.

Creative tension or personality conflicts? From here, at this point, it looks more like the former for the University of Hawaii men's basketball team.

When our newspaper's fashion expert and restaurant reviewer Nadine Kam introduced me to Twitter in 2007, I was dubious at best. "This is the wave of the future of how people will communicate," she said. "You should get on now."

The name "Brian" etched on his Starbuck's cup could've been a giveaway, but the biggest professional soccer star in Hawaii's history somehow made it from the parking lot to the coaches' tent relatively unnoticed, past hundreds of kids and parents.

Anyone I asked leading up to this Hawaii Bowl said Oregon State would win. That was even before Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick was sent home for allegedly watering the Waikiki sidewalk from 30 stories above.

In a year of many disappointments, the Rainbow Warriors gifted their followers with a wonderful present Monday night, a 76-74 win over Saint Mary's, which was 9-0 until arriving on these shores.

If it's a tee time the president wants today, he's got an out from watching basketball. Oregon State finally lost a game with Barack Obama in attendance, after four wins.

Not bad for a Plan C. No team from the Manoa home or the Golden Dome. But the third option -- a solid football matchup with plenty of island ties -- should be a charm for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

Sorry, I'm told that's it. If you want blood, you've got it. But we're fresh out of firings for now ... check back again next year.

When Shuji Tsukamoto placed second in the Iwai Masakado half-marathon in November his prize was the opportunity to run twice as far. That it would be in Honolulu was a plus.

For a typical sports event, losing a contender like Abdi Abdirahman to injury the day before would be distressful, if not problematic. But when they call the Honolulu Marathon the people's race, they mean everyone ... not just the world-class runners.

It's really pretty simple. Play like it did most of Friday night and who knows how far the University of Hawaii volleyball team can go. Play like they did in the second set against Idaho State and BYU will put an end to the Rainbow Wahine postseason.

Like any smart coach Dave Shoji leaves his options open as long as possible. "At this moment I have no intention of retiring," the University of Hawaii volleyball living legend said Thursday. "But I want to evaluate things after the first of the year to make sure I feel the same way."

Norm Chow's direct supervisors — athletic director Ben Jay and Manoa chancellor Tom Apple — are on the record in support of retaining the University of Hawaii head football coach for the third year of his five-year contract.

This was a must-win for Hawaii. Not because of the prospect of 0-12. Forget about job security for coaches, forget about ending on a good note heading into the offseason.

We don't have to go back too far to remember another little local guard contributing significantly to the University of Hawaii basketball team. Punahou product Miah Ostrowski played for the Rainbow Warriors as recently as two seasons ago.

The last time the University of Hawaii played Army, in 2010 at West Point, defensive end Kamalu Umu forced a fumble and Mana Silva's recovery gave UH the opportunity to drive down field and allow Scott Enos to hit a game-winning field goal with seven seconds left.

At Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. -- better known as The Swamp -- an ominous warning is sounded pregame for visitors. ONLY GATORS GET OUT ALIVE!

As Keenan Arroyo wended his way through the postgame handshake line, his former teammates saved their warmest congratulations for him. If there's animosity over the defensive back transferring from Kauai to Kaiser it's not at the player level.

The good news going into this one was that the University of Hawaii was going to get a win one way or the other -- as guaranteed as you can get, barring a power outage or some other calamity.

It's time to stop with the somewhat popular party line that the University of Hawaii football program is showing improvement from last year. It was true for a while earlier this season, but that is no longer the case. The scores are closer but the losses are worse than blowouts in some ways.

It seemed forever, Sean Schroeder flailing around in the grasp of a San Diego State defender, the Hawaii quarterback trying desperately to free himself on fourth-and-forever, one slim chance remaining to keep alive the Rainbow Warriors' hopes for their first win of the season.

The "H" is everywhere, but not on University of Hawaii football uniforms this Saturday. My nephew Joey's truck in the parking lot of his townhouse in Newport News, Va., is not just distinctive for its bright red color.

WASHINGTON, D.C. » My first assignments as a stringer for the Star-Bulletin 31 years ago included high school basketball games. I remember covering Campbell, which was led by a 6-foot-3 center named Mike Wise, and Radford, with a 6-foot-1 sharpshooter named Kenny Niumatalolo.

GREENBELT, Md. » When Scott Harding went down with a deep thigh contusion early in Saturday's game at Navy, it was apparent how much the University of Hawaii football team needs this guy. The question now is — assuming he heals up quickly — should UH continue to ask so much of him.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. » There was one fairly solid phase through most of this winless season for the University of Hawaii football team. Special teams. After Saturday's 42-28 loss here at Navy we can't really say that anymore.

GREENBELT, Md. >> Hawaii football fans have had little to cheer about this season as the Rainbow Warriors head into today’s game at Navy at 0-8. Unfortunately for UH, none of the four other winless teams in the FBS are on its schedule of four remaining games.

ANNAPOLIS, MD » They call it The Brotherhood and it's not just because the Navy football team has five sets of them. All of the Midshipmen have a bond before they play a down or even practice together. Plebe summer is no vacation. If your skin is thin, it gets tough fast or you're gone.

GREENBELT, Md. >> We hear a lot about leadership in sports and the military. And in the most militaristic of sports, football, it is considered indispensable, although often undefinable.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. >> He’s only 48 and still looks younger, but there are creases in Ken Niumatalolo’s face that weren’t there when he was a kid at Radford High School and a young man at the University of Hawaii … lines that were still absent as recently as 2009, when the Navy team he coaches last played against his alma mater, absorbing a 24-17 loss to UH at Aloha Stadium.

SALT LAKE CITY » Over the past few weeks, I've received many calls, emails and letters from University of Hawaii football fans who are upset about the team's consistent losing, saying they want Norm Chow out as head coach.

LOGAN, Utah » It was like 2012 all over again, and that's not good. After a month that provided glimmers of hope, the first game of November ended with a thud for the still winless University of Hawaii football team.

LOGAN, Utah » Things have gotten so bad for the University of Hawaii football team that even making it to the game on time has become a question.

LOGAN, Utah » On first impression, it's hard to see what cachet the Cache Valley might hold for a young person from Hawaii.

It's the most embarrassing thing that can happen to you in a baseball game, short of a hidden ball trick. It's worse than striking out or booting a ball.

Don't let that last flurry or even the final score of 35-28 fool you. Don't be tricked into thinking Hawaii lost to Colorado State because it couldn't finish in the fourth quarter.

Cardinals vs. Red Sox is also Big Island vs. Maui. Wailuku’s Shane Victorino starts in right field for Boston and St. Louis manager Mike Matheny announced Tuesday that Kolten Wong of Hilo has made the Cardinals’ 25-man roster.

Leave it to Shane Victorino to come through when we need it most, right? The Wailuku native and St. Anthony grad helped island sports fans forget for at least a little while about the negativity of a so-far-winless football season for the University of Hawaii.

Mililani might not come to mind quickly as a traditional, longtime powerhouse of Oahu high school football. Those would be the Interscholastic League of Honolulu big three of Kamehameha, Punahou and Saint Louis, and Farrington, Kahuku, Waianae and maybe Leilehua from among the public schools of the Oahu Interscholastic Association.

It's a simple formula. College football team loses. Ticket sales decline. Athletic department budget gets whacked. University of Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay fears he will have to cut his department's $32 million annual budget in the middle of this fiscal year because ticket sales are not meeting projections for home football games.

Neil Abercrombie came dangerously close this week to hijacking his own press conference, like the governor did two years ago when a little grip-and-grin about early childhood education somehow turned into a tirade against the state continuing to give the NFL $4 million a year for the rights to host the Pro Bowl.

Glass half empty: Six more games to 0-12. Glass half full: Can still make a bowl game (OK, that one's more like glass overflowing and flooding the room).

Friday night brought more blowouts as Oahu high school football teams that did not belong on the field with each other went through farces that ended in scores of 59-7 and 65-0.

Some people call it a body-bag game. Others look upon it as an opportunity. University of Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay sees it both ways. Jay told the UH board of regents he'd rather drink from other revenue streams than be forced into big payday mismatches against behemoth programs such as Michigan and Ohio State.

When the public schools in town broke away from the private schools in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in 1970 the issue was competitive balance because of recruiting.

The easiest thing to do right now is to sit at a keyboard and type the words "Fire Norm Chow." You'd have lots of company. Also, with the University of Hawaii football team he's coaching reeling at 0-5 this year and 3-14 since he took over for Greg McMackin after the 2011 season, you'd have a case.

Right now the odds look to severely favor the house when UNLV hosts the University of Hawaii football team on Saturday. But even if the Rainbow Warriors lose there again, some fans will find reason to return to Aloha Stadium when their team plays Colorado State on Oct. 26.

The Rainbow Warriors have reason for confidence and hope now — and they will probably draw a pretty good-sized and enthusiastic home crowd at Aloha Stadium. But to win they need to play like winners from the outset and not fritter away the hard-earned equity.

Are we ever too old for heroes? I hope not. But as we age, the number of fellow human beings of whom we remain in awe and respect beyond any normal measure decreases.



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