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Friday, March 06, 2015         

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Benjy Taylor has presented most of his case — the part on the court, anyway. Right now, the University of Hawaii basketball team still has a chance at 20 wins as it prepares for the finale of the regular conference slate at Fullerton and then the Big West tournament.

If you have a lawyer/agent negotiating a $365,000-a-year contract for you, you're not exactly a member of the impoverished working class. Those Bruce Springsteen songs aren't about you.

Negus Webster-Chan is a very funny guy. But his coach, Benjy Taylor, was much more amused with the small forward’s 20 points as Hawaii beat Long Beach State 78-59 on Thursday night than he was by the sharpshooter’s latest gag at the shoot-around earlier in the day.

Abraham Elimimian told me those words 10 years ago, nearly to the day. He had just completed his University of Hawaii football career and was preparing for the NFL scouting combine.

For Hawaii sports fans around my age, the name Al "Eki" Espinda is mostly associated with Farrington football. But with Espinda's death last week at age 78, his classmate Paul Wysgard reminds us that Espinda was also an outstanding all-around athlete.

On an evening where it needed every encouraging shriek from the season-high 1,989 sixth men and sixth little girls in the Stan Sheriff Center stands, the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine basketball team also got a huge lift from the most unlikely of benchies.

Jasmine was first. Jeremy came an hour later. Twins, born to Matt and Doris Ioane 23 years ago today at The Queen's Medical Center.

Judging a baseball team by one game never really makes sense.

If you can break a record set by Tom Henderson you're doing pretty well. That's not just because Henderson is one of the best two or three players in University of Hawaii basketball history and went on to the U.S. Olympic team and the NBA.

There are at least four strong local potential candidates for University of Hawaii athletic director: Keith Amemiya, Rick Blangiardi, Mufi Hannemann and John McNamara. June Jones said he wants to be football coach again, not AD.

Not a frolicking and relaxing day off — which would be well deserved after the Rainbow Wahine completed a sweep of their four-game homestand with Saturday's 79-64 victory over Cal Poly.

The current University of Hawaii baseball team got out of Saturday's alumni game unscathed after what coach Mike Trapasso described as "a clean game" and a 10-0 win. That's good news, since UH wants everyone ready when the season opens Friday against Oregon.

This might come as a surprise to you. It certainly did to me. According to the NCAA, I’m a University of Hawaii basketball booster. You might be a booster, too, without realizing it ... even if you never bought season tickets or never made a donation.

As the fax machine whirs into action on National Letter of Intent day, we're left to ponder if the University of Hawaii lost some recruiting battles because it competed the last few weeks short-handed.

We got our first actual look at the Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Saturday, the result of its lengthy probe of the University of Hawaii men's basketball program.

The NCAA doesn't possess unlimited enforcement resources, and if you pay attention to the news, you know in recent weeks and months it had some business to take care of with SMU and Penn State.

Judy Mosley-McAfee and Lynette Liu barely knew each other. But they are forever linked. "That's true," said Liu, who will play in the University of Hawaii women's basketball alumnae game Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center, at 2 p.m., prior to UH's game against CSUN. "We have a lot in common."

Like many of us, Linnea Garcia-Tatupu is conflicted about football. The game allowed the men in her life to fulfill their dreams, to achieve at the highest level of a profession, starring in the NFL. Her husband, Mosi, made it to the Pro Bowl.

Rarely is it true that whining works with basketball officials. It's OK to ask them in a respectful manner about what you did that got you tagged for a foul, so you can try not to commit the same offense again.

If we look at the composition of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame after the induction of its first two classes, maybe we can put a stereotype to rest. Yes, the Pacific Islands are known for producing linemen.

Forget about Pitt on Maui. Never mind Colorado in the Diamond Head Classic. Or any of the other 11 victories this season. That win Thursday against unheralded UC Davis was the biggest of 2014-15 for the University of Hawaii basketball team.

Any winning athlete or coach will tell you. Successfully defending a championship is a lot harder than winning the first one. It's the same with big new organizations and their big, annual events. There should, however, be no sophomore slump for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame this weekend.

Jimmy Walker finds himself in the strange position of having an opportunity for redemption via successful defense of a championship.

The latest local golf prodigy doesn't possess the flair of Michelle Wie or Tadd Fujikawa when they played at the Sony Open as teenagers.

There's a guy who changed the way people looked at pro golfers in the 1990s. Won some majors and broke the mold. No, we're not talking about Tiger, somebody else.

The University of Hawaii Manoa has an interim chancellor, a lame-duck athletic director, a winning "acting" basketball coach and a football coach who most anywhere else would have been fired after his third consecutive losing season.

This isn't the first time George Gusman of Waipio is officiating a national championship college football game. Nor is it the first time he's working a big Oregon-Ohio State game where he and the Ducks starting quarterback had gone to the same high school.

Even before his spectacular game Saturday night, people said they were surprised by how well sophomore Aaron Valdes has played for the University of Hawaii basketball team this season.

Going into the Big West basketball opener Wednesday, it was noted here how Hawaii's depth and versatility was a team strength. That assertion needs a little tweaking now.

Benjy Taylor is not in denial about what awaits his University of Hawaii basketball team as Big West conference play gets underway. The Rainbow Warriors chalked up some impressive victories before the New Year, but now comes the grind.

Some kind of misfortune had struck the Brigham Young basketball team a long time ago. The Cougars lost a game they shouldn't have, or one of their missionaries decided religion was more important than sports and didn't return to Provo, Utah. I don't remember exactly.

On the first day of 2015, Marcus Mariota was high, and seemingly, tight. The unflappable one adjusted his calibration quickly enough, and with a little help from his friends on both sides of the ball — the Heisman Trophy winner got better as the Rose Bowl went along.

Let's face it. Those of us from Hawaii (and a lot of other folks) are biased. And there's nothing wrong with that, just understand that it might cloud reality a bit. And maybe cost you a couple of shekels if you like to wager.

There's no denying Marcus Mariota is a star in a bright galaxy, gleaming over Hawaii -- and beyond. With the Heisman Trophy in hand he has earned his place among the pillars of a golden era full of island sports stars that began early last decade and continues, with much of the fuel now coming from Mariota's exploits.

As Punahou graduate Davis Miyashiro-Saipaia was being interviewed Monday at media day for the Rose Bowl by the hometown paper, Oregon teammate Bronson Yim kept repeating to him, "Shout out to Saint Louis! Shout out to Saint Louis!"

DeForest Buckner was taken back Sunday to when he was a child and his life changed forever, when his father, George, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. Through tears, he shared the story of being a young boy in Waianae and having to grow up fast.

Wait a second there, I thought Disneyland is where you go AFTER you win. And after you win it ALL. But tradition is tradition, especially when it comes to the Rose Bowl.

The easy thing to do is put the halo on Marcus Mariota and the horns on Jameis Winston, paint the Rose Bowl as a showdown between good and evil, and call it a day. Especially since Mariota is our latest and greatest hometown hero.

Sometimes you can learn a lot more about your team in a loser's bracket than a championship game this time of year -- like how good is it coming off the mat.

There's more than one way to get onto the field of a college football game. I was curious about one of the entry level jobs of officiating, the equivalent of dishwasher at a restaurant. So I filed my formal application with the guy in charge, Matt Sumstine.

Sometimes the cost of doing business makes you look bad. When you play really hard for 40-plus minutes, you can be prone to mistakes in overtime that make it look like you're dogging it when really you're just dog-tired.

It's hard to believe, but there was a time when bowl games were so limited two of the teams that ended up sharing the college football national championship 48 years ago didn't play after the regular season.

One of the best things about running is limits do not exist. There are no outs, like in baseball. There might be a clock, but it doesn't go down to zero — it goes up. You can run as far as you want or can, for as long as you want or can.

When Saint Louis dominated Hawaii high school football in the 1980s and '90s, it developed a reputation in some corners as a sports factory with misplaced priorities.

If you want results, David Monti is your guy. If there's a distance race anywhere in the world he can tell you who won, and why. And if you need help deciding which professional runners to invite to your event, he can do that, too.

The chancellor and the athletic director put on a good show of lovey-dovey. Don't buy it. Robert Bley-Vroman is a linguist, and that means he's careful with his words. One of Ben Jay's problems has been with the way he says things (and what he says).

Sunday's announced matchup of Fresno State and Rice on Christmas Eve does little to make anyone think it will exceed the attendance for the Aloha Stadium gathering of last year.

On Saturday someone told me Hawaii needs Marcus Mariota to win the Heisman Trophy. Life's far from perfect here and I won't speak for everyone, but most of us have what we "need."

Despite all kinds of meetings this week, barring an unforeseen case of intestinal fortitude, there's no "decision" coming, University of Hawaii football fans — or at least not the one many of you want.

Things have been pretty busy with the completion of football season and the University of Hawaii basketball team was out of town for a while. So I got my first live look at Benjy Ball on Tuesday.

As David Ige takes office, it is time to ponder how much impact the new governor will project upon the Hawaii sports scene. Of particular interest is University of Hawaii athletics, considering the poor record in recent years of the highest profile and biggest breadwinning sport, football, and other issues.

There's a third-year coach at the University of Hawaii who gets a pass on some losses because a lot of people see progress. For the first nine minutes Saturday the women's basketball team went toe-to-toe with the fifth-ranked team in the nation.

Even in a season of relative discontent, the Hawaii women's volleyball team is winning more than 75 percent of its matches. It's a rebuilding year, and headed into the final weekend of the Big West schedule the Rainbow Wahine have crept back into the top 25 of the coaches poll, after spending much of 2014 unranked.

What better topic than food as we prepare to feast on Thursday? Star-Advertiser videographer Kim Yuen and I recently visited the University of Hawaii to check out the expanded training table breakfast fare, since the NCAA now allows "unlimited food and snacks."

This was a second consecutive great weekend for University of Hawaii sports. Make that for Hawaii sports, in general. Contested on the same night UH was upsetting Pitt in basketball, the Mililani-Punahou football state championship final Friday was one of the most entertaining games I've ever seen.

Some will call it luck. Some will say the timer deserves the game ball. And some will remind us that UNLV is a very lousy football team. But in the end it didn't matter on senior night for the University of Hawaii.

In this day and age, you'd expect a distinct cheer from the boisterous crowd of 19,254 at Aloha Stadium as the University of Hawaii basketball team completed its upset victory over Pitt on Maui on Friday evening.

‘Iolani — where the school's motto for teamwork originated generations ago with Father Kenneth Bray — is back in the Division II championship game it has won seven of the past nine years under coach Wendell Look, playing Lahainaluna in Friday's first game.

Maybe Walter Murray needs to show up at more University of Hawaii football games. "This is my first one since my playing days," the UH wide receiver great from the 1980s said at halftime of the Rainbow Warriors' 13-0 win at San Jose State on Saturday afternoon.

Style points, few, but it's a win, on the road, against a 10-point favorite … and for a team, coaching staff and fan base that really needed one. I will even go as far as to say deserving.

Ben Clarke was on the hunt this week. The University of Hawaii left tackle from Littleton, Colo., needed tickets for 30 friends and relatives as the Rainbow Warriors visit the Colorado State Rams here at Hughes Stadium on Saturday evening.

We're back to so-called "winnable" games ... whatever that means for a University of Hawaii football team that has a 2-8 record and hasn't tasted victory since it beat Wyoming soundly more than a month ago.

Aiea High and University of Hawaii graduate Daryl Higashi has spent much of his professional career the past 29 years helping develop affordable housing in the City and County of San Francisco.

Things rarely end well for University of Hawaii football coaches. The only one I remember who went out with just about everyone happy and smiling was Dick Tomey, back in 1988. He's the exception. The end is usually not good, including for coaches who do great things for the Hawaii program.

Can't blame the weather. It was 59 degrees late in the fourth quarter, and the only question was if Colorado State could put that many points on the board against Hawaii. The losses are getting worse for the Rainbow Warriors as the season goes on.

They both have third-year head coaches who were national champions as offensive coordinators at the biggest of the big-time programs. Both schools play at off-campus stadiums.

After the way the University of Hawaii football team fell apart Saturday night against Utah State, en masse, at home, it's hard to picture the Rainbow Warriors (2-7) pulling it together and finishing the season with more than three wins, total.

One play doesn't decide a 35-14 loss. But one play Saturday that played a big part in it encapsulated the University of Hawaii football team's dismal existence. A touchdown disappeared while it was happening, before Scott Harding had even caught the punt that he returned 40 yards and across the Utah State goal line.

Because of the University of Hawaii basketball mess, I missed most of a celebration of an NAIA national championship team Tuesday night. The golden age of small college hoops here might never be recaptured.

University of Hawaii basketball fans have to hope that the firing of head coach Gib Arnold and assistant Brandyn Akana might be enough to satisfy the NCAA.

Long before fame and fortune as a national sports media celebrity, he hung out by a pay phone at Fort Street Mall, waiting for a call from an office less than a block away. Neil Everett, 23, was sweating, hoping he had enough money left to get back to the airport.

The old saying is that there's no one more popular than the second-string quarterback. But the visiting team's offensive coordinator? That's a new one. There's no question that Nick Rolovich is the people's choice for the next University of Hawaii football head coach, whenever the time might come for a replacement.

This is the time of year when the smart alecks like to ask, "When does basketball season start?" You know, because the fans are tired of the football team's futility. You can switch your focus to something fresh and new.

Rich Sheriff is right. There is no bad seat in the arena that he runs and which is named for his father, Stan, the man who built the facility that instantly became one of the best things going at the University of Hawaii -- and still is, after 20 years.

On Saturday, the University of Hawaii football team eclipsed the program mark set in 1998 for road futility with its 20-10 loss at San Diego State, a nation-leading 16th in a row away from home. Norm Chow has been coach for 15 of them.

As of Saturday afternoon it appeared Ana wouldn't get close enough to Oahu to cause major damage. But the threat of the storm forced evacuation of Saturday's schedule and created a Friday night lineup of Hawaii high school football match-ups unprecedented in mass appeal and intrigue.

The University of Hawaii football team is in a strange land of precarious confidence right now. As the Rainbow Warriors prepare for Saturday's game at San Diego State, they are still trying to win on the road for the first time since 2011.

Sam Spangler can't lose in this year's NLCS. He's a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan. But he's also an ardent supporter of his former University of Hawaii baseball teammate, St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong.

Perhaps the most rewarding thing for the University of Hawaii football team Saturday night wasn't just that it won a game … but, rather, how it won. It was a synergistic and gutsy effort from all corners.

All season the University of Hawaii defense had done more than its share and mostly come up empty. But Saturday at Aloha Stadium the Rainbow Warriors got a full-team effort and big plays from both sides of the ball and finally came away with a win, and against an FBS opponent.

Maybe the first thing to remember about the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame is that it isn't just the Hawaii Football Hall of Fame. So, when a guy like Luther Elliss gets voted in, we shouldn't be surprised.

The players in the orange jerseys were off-limits not only for the defenders at Hawaii football practice on Tuesday. Reporters wanting to know how Taylor Graham felt about getting more repetitions and Ikaika Woolsey fewer snaps from center with the starters were also prohibited from going after the quarterbacks.

There's nothing worse than trying to mask self-interest with pretending to care about someone else's extreme misfortune. It's downright shameful.

OK, so here's the positive spin: The University of Hawaii football team is still undefeated. As coach Norm Chow told the Rainbow Warriors after yet another loss of a winnable game, they are 0-0 in the conference.

When the University of Hawaii football team came through here seven years ago -- staying at the same hotel, even -- it wasn't to play Rice, which is the Rainbow Warriors' mission Saturday night.

You almost have to know they're there beforehand to notice them. Among the 4,300 trees on the Rice University campus stand three palms, near the stadium that is home to one of the best college baseball programs in the country.

As any poker player will tell you, it usually takes more than an ace to win a big hand. Sometimes it can even contribute to you losing a bundle. And you can go on tilt and lose your rhythm after something good happening as easily as something bad.

”Just handle what’s in front of you now, and the future will take care of itself.” — Dan Millman, “Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior” That’s good advice for any golfer, but it was especially true Saturday as most of the Champions Tour pillaged windless and hence defenseless Kapolei Golf Course.

It's a nondescript little building at Kapolei Golf Course. But for many of the players at the Pacific Links Hawaii Championship this weekend, time spent there will be as important as that at the practice areas.

Kevin Clune has seen first-hand the rare victory and a more common loss for the University of Hawaii football team when playing far from home at altitude.

It was a good week for University of Hawaii offensive line coach Chris Naeole. Thursday he was named one of 25 finalists for the next induction class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. Saturday the Rainbow Warriors got their first win of the season, 27-24 over Northern Iowa.

It wasn't a masterpiece by any means. But the Rainbow Warriors will take it. The University of Hawaii football team did what it needed to do to win a game, its first of the season and second in 15 including all of 2013.

Only a few of the 30,000 sets of eyes at Aloha Stadium were focused on him. Josh Donovan was just doing his job in the fourth quarter of the University of Hawaii football game against Oregon State last Saturday.

It's been a hot topic of pau hana discussion from Waialae to Waianae for years now ... almost since he left seven years ago. But now that June Jones has resigned from SMU the speculation that he will return to the University of Hawaii, where he worked miracles with the football program as head coach, is rampant.

Things went from bad to worse for University of Hawaii football as news spread that running back Joey Iosefa will miss a big chunk of the season due to injury. It was the worst fear of what might happen in the first two games against Pac-12 teams.

At halftime, this one looked like it was going to end up really ugly. And the third quarter didn’t provide much in the way of lipstick for the pig, as Oregon State built its lead to 31 points.

Could it be that orange is the new blue? Or the new red? Or the new … well, the new orange? If familiarity does indeed breed contempt, Oregon State is an opponent that should fire up Hawaii the way BYU, Fresno State and Boise State have in the past.

It takes money for University of Hawaii sports to survive and more money for them to thrive. Anyone who didn't already know that has learned it recently.

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?


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