Archive for November, 2012

Mahalo, Mililani ‘Ike!

November 28th, 2012
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When my friend Beth Kuwamoto Oka asked me to speak to her third-grade students I was apprehensive. I’d done many career days before and always feel honored to be asked, but I’d never done one with children so young. After the two sessions at Mililani ‘Ike Elementary School today, I’m glad I accepted her invitation.

The children were receptive and engaged. As usual after visiting a school I am optimistic about the future with so many bright, energetic young people being educated by dedicated, skilled teachers! And as always I emerge re-energized.

It was fun sharing stories about working in sports journalism, and it was a pleasant surprise when I asked how many of the kids’ parents get the newspaper at home and nearly all of them raised their hands.

Thank you Mrs. Oka and Mrs. Ebinger for your aloha and letting me spend time with your pupils!

Torres: Kawehena Johnson offered by UH

November 21st, 2012
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Apparently there is still room for a little guy who makes big plays on future University of Hawaii football rosters.
Kahuku football coach Reggie Torres told me today that UH head coach Norm Chow has tendered a scholarship offer to 5-foot-7, 150-pound Red Raiders senior Kawehena Johnson.

“He’s small, but he has the intangibles,” Torres said.

That, and more. Johnson, who leads his Kahuku teammates into the Division I state championship game Friday, may be the most exciting player in the state. The safety/receiver/quarterback has scored touchdowns on both sides of the ball.

His playing style is best described as electric, and he comes up big in big games.

My guess is he would project as a slot receiver and kick returner in college.

This is a smart offer by Chow, who has a history of securing Hawaii high school talent other coaches didn’t consider prime prospects. Kurt Gouveia, who UH did not offer because it considered him half a step slow, comes to mind. Gouveia, the state player of the year from Prep Bowl champion Waianae on both sides of the ball, went on to win a national championship at BYU and two Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins.

If Kahuku beats Punahou for its second-consecutive state title, Johnson will probably be a strong contender for state player of the year honors. Maybe even if his team doesn’t win.

The Point of the Matter

November 20th, 2012
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Since the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team’s one-point OT loss to Illinois last Friday, I’d been wondering if Brandon Spearman might be the answer at point guard.
So it was interesting to hear UH assistant coach Scott Fisher on Bobby Curran’s show this morning mention the junior starting 2 guard as a possibility as at least a backup at the 1 spot.
Perhaps we will see him at the point a few minutes tonight when UH hosts North Dakota?
I love Spearman’s all-around game. If you move him to the point you can have your best five players in the game: Spearman, Hauns Brereton, Isaac Fotu, Christian Standhardinger and Vander Joaquim.
Maybe it’s OK to continue starting Jace Tavita at the point; there are positive aspects of his game. But especially when you get to end-of-half situations you need a point guard with fewer turnovers, the confidence to take and hit a big shot, and much, much better free throw shooting than what Tavita has shown at Utah (10-for-25) and now at UH (1-for-7).

Chow talks about opening QB competition

November 12th, 2012
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Highlights of Hawaii football coach Norm Chow’s Q and A with media covering the team at the Monday, Nov. 12 press conference following 49-14 loss to Boise State and leading into Friday’s game at Air Force.

Q: Who’s your starting quarterback?

A: Jeremy and Sean (will) take an equal amount of reps this week and we will make a determination. Jeremy certainly deserves a chance but Sean doesn’t deserve all the criticism.

Q: Do you foresee a situation where you play them both extensively?

A: I don’t know if extensively, there’s only so many reps. Whoever we go with we’ll stay with as long as we feel like we have a chance. Those decisions are, I call them battlefield decisions. You make them on the fly and go with our instinct and go with our gut and see where we go.
I’m not into having a quarterback look over his shoulder. Jeremy deserves a shot. He played well, made some nice decisions, against the backups. But Sean doesn’t deserve the criticism he’s getting. He takes a shot in the head because the back misses a block. … We need to play better offensively.

Q: If you play Jeremy does that mean he’s your starter for the rest of the season?

A: No.

Q: (Two questions about playing Air Force and service academy teams in general)

A: I coached against them 20 years. It’s a tough, tough team to prepare for. This (option offense is) totally different. They’re tough guys, obviously tough guys. They’re going to represent our country when they graduate. We have to be prepared offensively to stay on the field with them. We can’t expect our defense to hold up all afternoon.

Kenny Niumatalolo, a good friend of mine told me that their time with the kids is the easiest time for the kids all day long. They look forward to practice. I had a brother who was a fighter pilot. He told me the academy guys, the pilots who came out of the academy were the cockiest and best fighters he’d ever seen.

Q: As you look at game film over the week and try to right the ship is the first thing you address the 28 turnovers and the 31 sacks?

A: No question. We make such a big deal … when we got here our philosophical base was I brought out a ball and said we take care of this ball. We haven’t done a good job of that.

The encouraging part is our guys continue to play hard. The discouraging part is we’re not fixing it. Everyone makes mistakes in life, fix the dang thing, we’re struggling doing that. We need to shore up protection, we need to shore up a lot of things. You’re down 28-7 everyone in the world knows you’re passing.

Q: When Mike Edwards takes it for a touchdown is it more him being a playmaker?

A: It’s never one guy. That’s what makes football fun. It’s 11 guys no matter how good Mike is and Mike’s awfully good.

Q: Have you made a decision on Will Gregory?

A: Will Gregory will not be with us this week. Wanted to wait until I saw the tape myself and I saw it and he won’t be with us this week. I won’t condone those activities.

Q: (Regarding the quarterback competition)

A: Probably today and tomorrow. Today’s more of a learning day. Probably today and tomorrow give them the same amount of reps. Jeremy will take them first.

Q: What are you looking for?

A: Leadership. Command of the huddle and making the right decisions. Be a leader.

Q: Is it fair to say Jeremy’s a little more mobile.

A: I don’t know if you had them in a race who would win but I think he’s a little more active in the pocket. That doesn’t necessarily mean mobile. It means he can move his feet and step up. (Referring to a study …) 70 percent of the passes completed are not the way they’re designed. The way they are in the book is not the way they happen. He has to move his feet, slide one way or the other and make a play after that. Jeremy did a nice job of that.

Q: Is that something you see more in a game than practice?

A: Sure you do. You can’t simulate it. We practice … quarterback breaks the pocket and where does he go. But awfully hard to simulate that.

Q: (About Higgins arm strength)

A: Jeremy’s not a real strong-armed guy. He knows that. But Ty Detmer was not strong-armed. They make up for it with the anticipation. Jeremy did a nice job when he hit Chris Gant on the skinny post. He really had to spin that one.

Q: The stadium didn’t have as many folks as usual. Any concern?

A: Of course I am (concerned). …

Q: Is there anything new on the Temple game today?

A: I probably should know by the end of the day.”

PIAA auction is on

November 7th, 2012
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One of my favorite people on the Hawaii sports scene is Doris Sullivan. For more than a decade now, Doris has worked tirelessly to help match student-athletes from high schools in Hawaii and American Samoa with colleges were they can continue their education as well as compete in their sports.

Doris’s nonprofit organization, The Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance, has helped secure millions in scholarship and grants.

Tickets for Thursday’s PIAA fundraiser are sold out, but you can still help by bidding on silent auction memorabilia items. Click on the link for information on how to bid. Deadline is noon Thursday.