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Tuesday, September 02, 2014         

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The University of Hawaii volleyball faithful finally got to see a bona fide Rainbow Wahine go-to terminator Sunday night, three matches into the season. But she was sitting on the opponents' bench, and her eligibility was expended long ago.

Here's what I don't understand. Why were people, obviously University of Hawaii fans judging by their attire, streaming out of Aloha Stadium with 2:40 left in the game and UH down by just one point?

Washington is favored by around 17 points against host Hawaii in Saturday's season-opening football game for both schools. Rick Blangiardi is poised to tell the Rainbow Warriors that ain't nuthin'.

Everybody knows in football the defense's job is to stop the other team's offense. Kevin Clune takes the simplicity a step further. "Let them score less than we score," the new University of Hawaii defensive coordinator said when asked for the basic goal of his unit, after Tuesday's practice, four days before the season opener against Washington.

Gray clouds hovered over Manoa valley Friday morning. But University of Hawaii soccer coach Michele "Bud" Nagamine and her Rainbow Wahine can find the sunny side of a hard-boiled egg. Maybe even a rotten one.

Maybe I'm too optimistic for the University of Hawaii football season that begins a week from Saturday against Washington at Aloha Stadium. If the Rainbow Warriors don't close out games better than they did while winning just one last year, there's no way they'll go 4-9 this fall, like I think they can.

Hawaii high school football has never been better. Unfortunately, it has also never been worse. The individual talent continues to improve. As does the coaching. This senior class of football players is considered among the state's best by college recruiters; some say it will be the finest crop ever.

When Saint Louis dominated Hawaii high school football for a decade and a half, people paid attention. It would take a while, but there were enough energetic young coaches eager to learn and enough talented kids, spread throughout the islands, to eventually change the paradigm.

Trivia hasn't been the same since the advent of the Internet. Librarians, bartenders, sports editors and radio producers rejoice that answers to questions like, "Who won the Triple Crown in 1967?" can now be found with a few easy keystrokes instead of a telephone call to an "expert."

So University of Hawaii sports has finally hit the big time again, six-and-a-half years after appearing in the Sugar Bowl.

We always know the University of Hawaii women's volleyball team is going to be good. The question year after year is how good, and the standards are higher than they are for any other team on campus, except perhaps the sailing squad.

Yes, it's hot in Cleveland. Actually, warm and fairly pleasant this time of year. "Kind of like Hawaii, about 75, 80 degrees," Tony Tuioti says in a phone call from the shores of Lake Erie. "Beautiful weather. But it can change quickly."

Moses Samia has the right mind-set about riding out the storm. "I'm not too concerned because the weather is out of our control," the University of Hawaii defensive tackle said after practice Thursday morning.

Pretty good isn't good enough for Ikaika Woolsey, and that makes Jordan Wynn very happy. To most observers -- including Wynn, Hawaii's quarterbacks coach -- Woolsey did nothing during Tuesday's practice to lose his tentative spot at the front of the UH starting QB race.

You know why people bet the over, as in how many points will be scored in a football game? Couple reasons. One is it's more fun to cheer for offense. The other is you can hit it during the game and then stop worrying about it.

The man whose name is the answer to my favorite local sports trivia question holds a job that is by no means trivial. First guy to throw a touchdown pass at Aloha Stadium?

The fallout of reassigning the University of Hawaii-Manoa chancellor includes these questions: Is the position is even necessary? Can the UH president can just assume those duties? As a state taxpayer, it sounds like a good idea.

Brian Derby expects big things from one of the recent alumni of his popular youth and high school football lineman camp.

It was two years ago this month when Tom Apple — during his first week on the job as University of Hawaii Manoa chancellor — was trotted out in front of reporters to talk about something that had gone terribly awry.

It's too bad for Hawaii the college sports world doesn't revolve around women's volleyball instead of football and men's basketball. The University of Hawaii would be doing fine.

OK, everybody. Spread out. Norm Chow says that's what the University of Hawaii football team's offense will do this fall. The initial reaction is to rant and rave and say he never should have bunched up and tried to play smashmouth in the first place.

How does a college basketball coach get a three-year contract extension when his program is under NCAA investigation — a probe that has been ongoing for nearly four months now?

Like a typical grandparent, George Gusman watched with joy as 12-year-old Dominic played baseball last week in a tournament. As an experienced high school coach, he also took interest in the way the youth team coach moved the players around the field.

Sometimes blessings bring problems. And so it is with pitchers and arm injuries. Hawaii's weather allows for baseball year-round, which sounds like a great thing

So what happens if you start a Hall of Fame and it's obvious to all that you belong in it? That appeared to be a challenging dilemma for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, which otherwise enjoyed a wildly successful and smooth debut with its inaugural enshrinement activities in January.

It's all H logos and Warriors, just a couple of shirts with Rainbow Warriors. The only rainbow logo I saw on the first day of business at the new Ward Centre store Tuesday was on the shirt of 1420-AM radio producer Alan Miya.

At least it's finally out there for real discussion. It only cost $250,000 of state money to have a mainland company tell us to make the next stadium on Oahu smaller ... which is basically what our "stakeholders" told them to tell us.

Fans of East Coast football teams who live in Hawaii know all about rising before the sun to watch big games. So do sports bar owners. They can rely on healthy sized, loyal crowds.

Michelle Wie has come a long way, and probably has a long way to go. If she remains healthy and motivated, the 24-year-old winner of the U.S. Women's Open could continue winning golf tournaments, including majors, for at least another 15 years.

In 2003, when Michelle Wie was already becoming famous and playing in her first major, Kurt Suzuki was a walk-on at Cal State Fullerton, no one in Hawaii had heard of Colt Brennan and only a few in the islands remembered an Illinois state senator named Barack Obama.

If we had to pick a theme song for the early going of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)" would be a good choice. Not just in the figurative sense that in the first week of matches goal scoring was higher in Brazil than it was four years ago in South Africa.

Quick, someone call Child Protective Services. There's an 11-year-old being abused. She's playing golf and eating ice cream. She's hanging out with her idols. She's being ruined for life. Lucy Li, who is younger than my car, played her way into the U.S. Women's Open. Fair and square.

With the news of Kamehameha winning the National Interscholastic Surfing Championships in Dana Point, Calif., over the weekend, I was reminded of something from three years ago.

Hang in there, U.S. soccer fans. Your national team will dominate the world someday. That's been the message for around 40 years now, going back to when Kyle Rote Jr. was a superstar in the North American Soccer League.

If you can't grasp what all the commotion is about with the Washington NFL team's nickname, watch the commercial that the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation paid to air during the NBA Finals this week.

Many of us have been there. Waiting for a late check that will cover the rent that was due yesterday and the groceries that your body says you need now.

Now, with the pro draft concluded, comes the next recruiting phase for University of Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso. You know, the one that didn't go so well last year.

OK, quick. Which Hawaiian island is the only one that has been home to an NBA All-Star, a big leaguer who appeared in the World Series and a Super Bowl champion? Yes, it's the Big Island.

The Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association has brought together an impressive array of speakers for its annual conference this week, including former Moanalua basketball player Angela Perez Baraquio-Grey -- who also happened to be Miss America in 2001.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association honors its Hall of Honor inductees for 2014 on Sunday evening.

When I pose the wildly hypothetical question of Donald Sterling as University of Hawaii sports financial savior, UH athletic director Ben Jay laughs and replies with the proper two-letter answer: "No."

After working as a team member last year in the successful effort to keep the sport in the Olympics, the 2012 freestyle bronze medalist who turns 33 this summer is back to the individual grind.

Considering the way the University of Hawaii baseball team gave the game away Friday, there was no way it could stand as the season finale — as emblematic of the season as it is.

Regardless of how the NCAA investigation of the University of Hawaii basketball program pans out, if UH tries to punish head coach Gib Arnold — especially with termination — the school can expect a fight.

One of the best things about high school sports is that the wins and losses matter less than they do in college and the pros. Yes, of course the players try as hard, in some cases harder. And sometimes the defeats are more difficult to take.

Today is the final signing day for college basketball recruits, but for the University of Hawaii it's more like sighing day and reflecting on what might have been — while remaining nervous about what might come to be.

One of my siblings and I never cheated in Monopoly. The other three did, constantly (full disclosure: if I were not the eldest, I might have too). Who won? Nobody. I don't think we ever actually finished a game.

The NCAA probe of the University of Hawaii men's basketball program has expanded beyond UH staff and players, according to a man who describes himself as a "fan." He told the Star-Advertiser he was interviewed by an NCAA investigator Saturday.

With 32 individual titles at stake, there was plenty of drama despite the lopsided team standings at Saturday's HHSAA/Island Movers State Track and Field Championships at Kamehameha.

The present for University of Hawaii athletics is shaky and the future is uncertain at best. But UH can still celebrate its past.

Jay Marumoto was an outstanding pole vaulter at Punahou. But in the final event of his high school career, he failed. He was considered the top vaulter entering the field.

Another offseason and surprise, surprise, surprise: Another drama for the University of Hawaii men's basketball team and coach Gib Arnold. This latest one makes the others seem like the "absolutely nothing" that Arnold claimed this would be.

There's a University of Hawaii athletic team with an 18-3 record that is unbeaten as the visiting team and is one of six schools remaining to compete for a Division I national championship.

You had to be an accountant to figure out the scoring system for the University of Hawaii spring football finale. But it doesn't take much expertise at all to know if Joey Iosefa was let loose, the defense wouldn't have had its way with the offense as much as it did Saturday at Ching Field.

When Ikaika Woolsey played high school football in the Bay Area, announcers wouldn't even try to pronounce his name that translates in Hawaiian to "strength" or "warrior."

Moments following the greatest bogey of her career, Michelle Wie was doused with champagne. As she walked off the 18th green toward the scorer's tent, it was hard to tell if she was wiping a tear or a drop of bubbly from under her eye.

It will be a big challenge for Michelle Wie to seal the deal Saturday. But her station near the top of the LPGA Lotte Championship leaderboard may have already helped complete a big one for the tournament itself.

First the disclaimers. Watch out for Cristie Kerr. Bogey-free 6 under par on Thursday. Top 10 in her past three events. She's got 16 career wins and she's tied for third just two strokes off the lead.

It's not a novelty flavor of the day kind of thing that kim chee is available at the players' lunch buffet here at the LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club. It's a staple for a large portion of the field.

There was the beach and the local food last week, and Saturday night there's a Ping-Pong tournament for charity. In the middle of it, Michelle Wie will find time to play some golf.

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.


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