Archive for March, 2011

CIT a smart move for UH … Playing through distraction

March 11th, 2011
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Unless its fan base shows complete disinterest, the University of Hawaii basketball program will come out on the plus side financially by hosting a first-round game in the CollegeInsiders.com Poststeason Tournament.

UH’s total outlay will be around $50,000. This includes a $31,500 entry fee to the CIT and the remainder goes to visiting opponent Portland.

Athletic director Jim Donovan said the break-even point is “right around 4,000″ in attendance. The Rainbows have been drawing far in excess of that number in recent games. Especially if there’s no telecast Tuesday, UH should have no problem hitting that number.

“We’d also like to send a message about hosting Friday if we win,” Donovan said in a phone interview Friday from the WAC tournament in Las Vegas.

Donovan said a priority was to have a home game to open the CIT because the Rainbows have missed so much school recently. He also wanted to reward the fans, who haven’t seen UH host a postseason game in many years.

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Hats off to the Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education softball team, which played and played well on Friday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium despite the devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked its homeland.

TWCPE manager Mineko Yoshino told Jason Kaneshiro and me that it was a tough decision for her to have the team play its two games against South Dakota State and Miami (Ohio). Although all of the players and staff had located loved ones and knew they were safe, it was a restless night for the team at its Waikiki hotel. Yoshino, who said she didn’t sleep at all herself, said her first concern was the team’s safety.

As it turns out, putting the team on the field was the right decision. TWCPE displayed plenty of crispness and fight. It battled to a 10-7 come-from-behind win against South Dakota State, and competed to the end in a 5-2 loss to Miami.

The team plays Chaminade on Saturday and Longwood (Va.) on Monday before heading back to Japan on Tuesday.

Lost It On The Line

March 9th, 2011
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A heartbreaker for sure, having an apparent game-winning basket at the buzzer waved off. But that’s not where Hawaii lost its first-round WAC Tournament game to San Jose State today. The Rainbows fell 75-74 despite leading by 7 with about 9 minutes left in the game.

Hawaii lost on the free throw line. UH shot 18 of 30 from the stripe, and 60 percent is far from satisfactory for a college basketball team.

What’s maddening is that free throw shooting is one of the few things that  you have complete control of in a basketball game.

The Rainbows should not have found themselves in the situation of needing to score a basket in the final seconds to win.

Ben Naki, RIP

March 7th, 2011
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Ben Naki was one of the most prominent organizers of slow-pitch softball tournaments in Hawaii. The entire softball community will miss him.

His Family Stone Softball Club’s leagues and tournaments encompassed many different demographics and levels of play. He may have been most well known for his very well organized and popular alumni tournaments.

Ben was a great player in his day. I was fortunate enough to be a teammate of his about 25 years ago in a league at Kamamalu Field. I remember our team winning a game without allowing the opponents to get a runner on base; the only perfect game I’ve ever seen or heard of in slow-pitch.

I will post information on services as soon as I get it.

Alapa lays down the law

March 6th, 2011
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From the “Where Are They Now?” files:

After graduation from University of Hawaii, linebacker Keani Alapa became a Honolulu Police Department officer. Now he’s thriving as a student at UH’s William S. Richardson Law School.

Last week, Alapa and his teammate, Maxwell Kopper, won the Best Advocate category at a national moot court competition at Columbia University Law School in New York. About 30 law schools from around the country participated with 60-plus teams. The competition emphasizes brief writing and oratory skills.

Doing Senior Night Right

March 4th, 2011
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I’ve seen all kinds of senior sendoffs over the years, including about 50 or so for various University of Hawaii  teams. It’s true, nobody does it like UH, with more hugs and flowers and testimonials than at some local graduations and retirement parties and every senior finale I’ve seen at mainland schools.

Rarely, however, do these events get a game to match the sentiment of the evening like last night when the UH Rainbow Wahine basketball team fought back from a 21-point first-half deficit to win 72-71 in overtime.

I arrived at halftime after attending a friend’s birthday party. Utah State led by about 15 at the break, and I figured I’d be sitting through a similar second half, help Brian McInnis by doing the online breaking news story afterward, and that would be that.

But what we saw in the second half was an outstanding display of heart and fight on the part of the Wahine to get back in the game and then win it in OT. All five seniors: Mai Ayabe, Julita Bungaite, Keisha Kanekoa, Allie Patterson and Megan Tinnin played a big part in it.

No one is ever going to mistake this squad for a great college basketball team. The win-loss record makes that clear. But it is an improved team from the beginning of the season. And it is a team that never gave up, and one of which its fans can be proud. The Wahine displayed togetherness and character last night, and they went out winners.

And, as the UH men’s team did on its senior night last week, the Wahine showed hope for the future. Freshman Kamilah Jackson’s work under the basket helped get UH back into it, and she took over in OT, scoring all four points for Hawaii including two pressure-packed free throws to tie and win it with less than a second left.

These seniors had to overcome plenty over the years: A coach who recruited most of them whose reign ended with controversy and who quit before he could be fired; for one, the death of her mother; and language and cultural differences.

By the end they had become sisters who stuck together through some rough times. And that spirit came through not just in the senior celebration, but also in the stirring comeback victory.

The Wahine are 11-18 headed into the WAC Tournament, and that’s why you still hear rumblings about coach Dana Takahara-Dias not being qualified for the job with two losing seasons in two years at the helm.

Well, after last night’s game, it should be obvious she and her staff have done something right with this mostly inherited group, and Jackson was a special recruiting find. It will be interesting to see how the Wahine perform next year without these seniors, but with more of DTD’s recruits.