No interruptions

April 14th, 2014
By

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
By

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.

fred

Rec in effect

April 12th, 2014
By

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

new

 

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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.

Making memories

April 11th, 2014
By

When it comes to professions, sports reporters evoke as much sympathy as lawyers and the kiosk people who want to help you lotion away your constipated-wrinkled look. Yep, Pro Bowl week is difficult for reporters who have to go through TSA-like checks, chase around players who don't want to be chased, and then have to take orders from rental guards who say such things as: "Step back … no, I said step back … no, not that far back …" And, nope, reporters shouldn't be pitied because we get to cover one of the best sporting events Hawaii has to offer.

Best?

Of course.

Even without participants from the final-four teams, there were more than enough marquee players. It doesn't even matter that the Pro Bowl provided as much flopping as a Heat-Spurs game. The Pro Bowl is an event in a town that doesn't have many  events.

The shortcomings don't matter. That's why the "Lion King" sells out for more than a month despite not having the original Broadway cast. That's why Journey packs the Blaisdell despite Steve Perry not being on lead vocals. In the hanabata days, my uncle took us to see the Globetrotters at the HIC. There was "Sweet Georgia Brown" on the speakers, and confetti in the water bucket but … where was Meadowlark? Where was Curly? I'm not sure that was the real Washington Generals. But for two hours on a Saturday, none of that mattered. We had fun, ate and laughed until our bellies ached, and cherished the memories.

Maybe that's why many will miss the Pro Bowl , at least for a year.

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A long, long time ago, I was at a concert, sitting near a guy who cupped his ears and complained: "Why does it have to be so loud?"

The past two years, I was that guy.

UH football practices were that loud. It wasn't the music, it was the constant yelling.

But this spring, the volume has been turned down. Maybe it's because there's more teaching. Maybe it's because it took that long to impose ground rules such as tightening chinstraps, being punctual, not repeating mistakes. (The best way to keep parents from nagging is to keep your room clean and take out the garbage.)

Coach Norm Chow is correct that this has been the most efficient of his three UH spring practices.

It's also the quietest.

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Click below for videos of yesterday's offense-defense battle:

> Round 1 video 

> Round 2 video

> Round 3 video

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How do we know tonight's volleyball match is important?

Assistant coach Milan Zarkovic packed his battle hat for the trip to Malibu:

milan2

milan1

 

Special interest

April 10th, 2014
By

It was later in the practice, the 13th of 18 periods, when auditions were conducted for spots on four special-team units.

"That's why we call it the big four because it encompasses all four — punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return," said Chris "Demo" Demarest, who coordinates special teams.

In the big-four drill, there are four players on each side, starting in a prone position. At the whistle, coverage players jump up and sprint downfield. The hold-up players jump up and try to re-reoute the coverage players.

The seemingly simple drill is a study in technique, discipline and effort. For instance,  a coverage player on the outside lane is supposed to set the edge and prevent the returner from running wide. Three times Demarest fumed when an outside player left his lane to chase the returner.

The hold-up players were implored to stay in front of the coverage player — stab and lag — to re-route without clipping. Demarest does not tolerate  penalties, not even in practices.

Demarest said he has received coach Norm Chow's blessing to use every player but quarterbacks on the big four.

"We're going to find the best available players for special teams," Demarest said. "Everybody has an opportunity, whether you're on scholarship or a walk-on, to catch my attention."

Demarest said starters are limited to playing on two of the four units.