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X marks the spot for former Warrior

April 16th, 2014

"Who knew I'd be going to Japan?" former UH defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu marveled.

Tuipulotu signed with the Asahi Soft Drink Challengers to play in this fall's X League in Japan. He leaves next month. Former UH defensive lineman Saui Matagiese will be a teammate.

On playing for a beverage company, Tuipulotu mused: "Perfect. A match made in heaven."

Actually, Tuipulotu has cut out sweets and is adhering to a healthful diet. He dropped more than 50 pounds since his final game with the Warriors in 2011, and now weighs 255. His surgically repaired shoulder has long healed.

Tuipulotu also will leave behind an MMA career in which he was 2-0 as an amateur fighter. He said he went into that sport only to get "that rush again."

Tuipuloto said the X season runs from August through December. The company will pay for all his living expenses except food. He also will receive a $3,000 monthly stipend.

"That's more than a scholarship," he said. "I lived on a scholarship. I can make it happen again."

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Former Kealakehe coach Sam Papalii offers this update:

David Fangupo is enrolled at Cerritos JC. He lives with two former teammates from 2012 championship team — Giovanni Chanes-Rodrigues (6-1, 300) and Jerone Moeoge (6-2, 340). Fangupo is the No. 1 nose guard who also will be used as a short-yardage ball-carrier. Chanes-Rodrigues made the 2013 all-conference team. He has received 2015 scholarship as a center from UAB and North Texas. Moeoge is in the d-line rotation.

All's fair

April 15th, 2014

This spring, the UH coaches have kept to their promise of maintaining a relatively equal competition at quarterback.

Although Ikaika Woolsey, who was in the opening lineup for two games last year, has taken nearly all the first turns in quarterback drills, Jeremy Higgins has received an equal number of reps. Taylor Graham has been on a restricted snap count while he works toward full good health following surgery to his left (non-throwing) shoulder in December.

By sticking to a schedule in which the starter's job won't be named until after the first week of training camp, it allows the quarterbacks to focus on the expanded offense.

Chow said the quarterbacks, particularly Woolsey and Higgins — both compete in the drills in which the QB may be hit — are "getting better every day. That's what practice is for. If you want to challenge for the job, you can't sit back. You need to be aggressive. Both Ikaika and Jeremy are doing that."

Chow added: "We're trying to be fair. Whether that's the right thing to do or not, I don't know. Sometimes you don't give a guy enough reps. I tried that once before and it didn't work. At the end of the day, we tried to be fair, and we weren't fair to anybody. We'll see. We keep count, and we track the reps. So far, so good."

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The final two weeks of spring training should be interesting following yesterday's moves: Tui Unga from tight end to defensive line; Penitito Faalologo back to fullback.

The moves are designed to get both on the field quicker.


No interruptions

April 14th, 2014

For the first time in three years, the Rainbow Warriors are making an easy transition into their third week of spring training.

In 2012 and 2013 — Norm Chow's first two springs as head coach — the Warriors practiced for two weeks, took a week off for spring break, then resumed for three weeks of workouts. The break proved to be troublesome as the players struggled to regain their groove immediately.

By playing through without a break, the Warriors are trying to maintain the pace set this offseason.

The Warriors' eighth practice is this morning.

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The Warriors are seeking volunteers to assist video coordinator Dory Kong this coming football season. If you wish to help, please call (808) 956-9476.


Time management

April 13th, 2014

After last week's sweep of  BYU on senior night, the lament was that the home volleyball season had ended too soon. That's what happens when matches are missed in January and February.

After last night's loss to Pepperdine, the volleyball season is over — also too soon. That's what happens when matches are missed in January and February.

The Rainbow Warriors won 13 league matches, and that would have been good for a fifth seed in last year's eight-team MPSF playoffs. Instead, the Warriors finished ninth, with a head start on the offseason.

What was the difference? It started with Pacific, UC San Diego and California Baptist. Those three were worse than expected, with their only MPSF victories against each other. That meant the other 10 MPSF teams could have virtually penciled in six victories, much like the old belief that a student earned 200 points for signing his name on the SAT.

If the safe number was 15 for a playoff berth, then a team needed to go 9-9 against the other 10 teams. For UH, that meant earning nine victories in a schedule in which 10 of those 18 matches matches were on the road. (With the exception of UH, MPSF teams play home-and-home schedules against each other each year. Because of Hawaii's distance, for instance, UH and UC Irvine met twice in Honolulu this year but none in Irvine, then play twice next year in Irvine but not in Honolulu.) With UH's struggles on the first night of two-matches road series — it was 1-4 — that put pressure to not let key matches slip away. At a glance, there were three such losses — fifth-set defeats to UC Irvine and Stanford and either match against UC Santa Barbara.

The lesson, coach Charlie Wade said, "is some of those matches back in January and February, you think you've got all year to make it up, and you don't. The MPSF every night is a playoff game."

The Warriors, undersized at nearly every position, played grittily each match. UH, USC and Pepperdine return most of their top players next season. (UH's matches against USC and Pepperdine will be in Honolulu next year.) Those are things to consider during this extended offseason. For this relatively good season, time ran out for the Warriors.

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It rained. The ACT was held at the same time. The Kamehameha prom was that night.

Yet, there was a large turnout for Junior Day on the Manoa campus. Several of the top prospects for the 2015 recruiting class were there, including Saint Louis' Fred Ulu-Perry, considered one of the top offensive linemen in the state.

Ulu-Perry said it was a good experience, and UH is a consideration. He has received eight scholarship offers, but probably will take all five allotted visits before deciding on the weekend before signing day next February.


Rec in effect

April 12th, 2014

It might take a while, but sometimes UH gets it right:



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The Rainbow Warriors complete the first half of spring training with today's seventh practice. (There are 14 practices, not including the 15th day used for the Spring Fling.)

Once again, quarterbacks Ikaika Woolsey and Jeremy Higgins are expected to be live targets once they leave the pocket.

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Once again, it will be a dramatic finish for the volleyball Warriors. To qualify for the MPSF playoffs, they need to beat second-ranked Pepperdine tonight and hope BYU can defeat UCLA.