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Thursday, December 18, 2014         

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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?

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.


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