Below the Rim

22 October 2018

MY BAD

Yeah, it’s true. Our Rainbow Warriors laid a giant egg this past Saturday night against Nevada – losing, 40 to 22 – and it’s pretty much my fault.

We have a small but talented digital team here at 1420. We’re responsible for everything from producing videos, posting on social media, writing newsletters and maintaining our Web site. Ku‘ulei Agbayani runs the show. Chanel Tsutsuse is our graphics and video editing whiz. And I’m the old guy that tries really hard to keep up.

Sometimes I try too hard.

Let’s go back to last Friday afternoon. I was ready to call it a day and get the weekend started. It was going to be a great weekend: Hawaii would dispatch the Wolf Pack to become bowl eligible; the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team would sweep their road matches; and, perhaps best of all, my Oakland Raiders had a bye, meaning they wouldn’t be able to make me want to jump off a cliff again.

But right before I shut down my computer, a thought came to me: “When Hawaii beats Nevada, you should put up a graphic congratulating the team for becoming bowl eligible. In fact, you could post it on Facebook as soon as the game ends.”

Sure, Hawaii might lose. But I doubt it.

So I created the graphic (see above) and had it ready to go. I was being forward-thinking. I was being proactive. I was being prepared.

I was being stupid.

In my defense, did anyone really think Hawaii would play this poorly? From play calling to execution to mental errors, this was the worst game the Rainbow Warriors played all season.

So here’s the situation now. Hawaii has four games remaining: Fresno State, Utah State, UNLV and San Diego State. They still need to win one of these contests to earn a Hawaii Bowl berth.

Surely, they’ll beat…….never mind. I’m shutting the hell up.

I’ve learned my lesson, I promise. No more jinxing our beloved Rainbow Warriors.

In fact, I’ve decided to do a “reverse jinx.” So when Hawaii does make the Hawaii Bowl, remember to give me the credit.

 

1 October 2018

OLDER, NOT WISER

Years ago, when retro gaming first reared its nostalgic head, I welcomed it with open arms. The newer video games were too complex, unwieldy and – well, they were just too hard to play for an old fart like me.

I longed to return to the days of Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Galaga and Super Mario Bros. Those games were simple, yet unabashedly fun. I fondly recalled the countless hours I would spend in front of our TV, trying to gobble up ghosts, squashing mushrooms and shooting down alien ships.

But when I got my hands on these old games again, I found the experience to be less than satisfying. Oh, it was fun for the first few plays. But before long, nostalgia gave way to boredom. The old stuff just couldn’t compare to the games of today. They didn’t age well.

That pretty much sums up the return of Jon Gruden to my Oakland Raiders.

When Jack Del Rio got the ax and the Raiders were I need of a new head coach, I never imagined that man would be Gruden, who coached the Silver & Black from 1998 through 2001. I was excited, yet apprehensive. Could Chucky bring back the magic?

So far, the answer is a big fat NO. The Raiders are 1-3 and barely got past the Cleveland $&@%# Browns. Far worse, Gruden traded away the team’s best player, Khalil Mack, for two lowly first-round draft picks. (The upward-bound Bears look like playoff contenders, meaning neither of the two draft picks will be Top 10.)

After his team’s first two losses, Gruden bemoaned the lack of a consistent pass rush. “Good pass rushers are hard to find,” he said. Yes, he really said that.

Owner Mark Davis gave Gruden a 10-year, $100-million contract. In other words, Gruden is likely here for the long haul. And with that kind of contract, you know he has control over the personnel roster. The “Let’s-Trade-Khalil-Mack” type of control.

Take this as a lesson, sports fans. You can’t always go home again. Lightning doesn’t strike twice. Football fans, be grateful UH hired Nick Rolovich and not June Jones. BJ Penn, please hang it up for good. (Cal Lee? Well, there’s always that one exception, isn’t there?)

So far, at least for this Raiders fan, the return of Chucky has been the saddest of horror shows.

 

TRIVIA QUESTION: What special significance does Nov. 17, 1979 hold for the Hawaii-Wyoming football rivalry? (Answer Below)

STOCK WATCH

MOVING UP:

1. TUA TAGOVAILOA: At this point of the season, he’s the clear-cut favorite to win the Heisman. And he only plays about half of every game.

2. JAHLANI TAVAI. UH linebacker continues to pile up the tackles. More importantly, he continues to come through when the team needs him the most.

3. RAINBOW WAHINE VOLLEYBALL. Sure, their 4-0 start to the Big West season could be deceiving. But the team seems to be coming together at the right time.

2. HAWAII BASEBALL FANS. Come November, local fans will be able to see the likes of Yadier Molina, Christian Yelich, Eugenio Suarez, Ronald Acuna Jr., Carlos Santana and other Major League Baseball stars at the Les.

1. LOS ANGELES LAKERS. The sight of LeBron James in a Lakers uniform is breathtaking and sickening at the same time. Will King James bring a new Purple Reign?

MOVING DOWN:

5. U.S. RYDER CUP TEAM: Couldn’t you at least have made it close, fellas?

4. EARL THOMAS: Seahawk safety puts up obscene gesture while being carted off the field with a fractured leg.

3. SJSU KICKER BRYCE CRAWFORD.

2. JON GRUDEN: Overkill, I know. I can’t help it.

1. MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Who else thinks that one-game playoffs are stupid?

TRIVIA ANSWER: On Nov. 17, 1979, the Rainbow Warriors and Cowboys played at Aloha Stadium. It was the first time the schools competed for the “Paniolo Trophy.” (Wyoming won that game, 21-13.)

 

4 September 2018

TAKING THE STAND

PROSECUTOR: Your Honor, I’d like to call the defendant to the stand.

JUDGE: Proceed.

(Defendant takes stand)

BAILIFF: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

JOE BANDWAGON: You bet. GO BOWS!

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Bandwagon, you are accused of being…well, a bandwagon fan. You have pleaded “not guilty.”

JOE BANDWAGON: Damn straight! I have always loved the Rainbow Warriors! I bleed green and white – although I’m happy they’re “black in black”!

PROSECUTOR: So you say. When was the last time you attended a UH home game?

JOE BANDWAGON: …

PROSECUTOR: Should I repeat the question?

JOE BANDWAGON: No, I heard you. I’m trying to remember. I think it was when Greg Salas was playing. But that doesn’t mean anything! I still supported the team! No one is a bigger UH fan than me!

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Bandwagon, we have records of your social media posts.

JOE BANDWAGON: Oh, #%@*.

PROSECUTOR: Here is one example. On July 2 of this year, you wrote, “Hawaii will be lucky to win three games if Cole McDonald is the QB. He sucks.”

JOE BANDWAGON: …

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Bandwagon, what social media post did you write about Cole McDonald after Saturday’s win over Navy?

JOE BANDWAGON: Uhh. I said, umm, I think I said that Cole should be a front runner. Umm. You know, for the Heisman…

PROSECUTOR: And here is a post you wrote in December of last year. You said, and I quote, “Rolo is not the answer. Best to move on and find a more qualified coach before the program sinks even lower.”

JOE BANDWAGON: Yeah, but…

PROSECUTOR: And here’s a post that you just wrote this past Sunday: “David Matlin is crazy if he doesn’t lock up Rolo for a big extension. Pay the man!”

JOE BANDWAGON: I’m…not…a bandwagon fan…I swear…

PROSECUTOR: Sir, who are you favorite professional sports teams?

JOE BANDWAGONS: The Astros, Eagles, Warriors and Flyers. But that doesn’t mean…

PROSECUTOR: No more questions, your Honor.

JOE BANDWAGON: …

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Bandwagon, you may step down from the stand.

JOE BANDWAGON: …

JUDGE: Mr. Bandwagon, are you all right?

JOE BANDWAGON: ALL RIGHT I ADMIT IT! I AM A BANDWAGON FAN! I can’t help it! Hawaii football sucked for so long! And I’m not the only one! You can’t blame me for wanting to stay away during the Chow years! Oh, the horror…

JUDGE: Sir, no one is blaming you for that. The Chow years sucked.

JOE BANDWAGON: I’m sorry, okay? But I’m back now. I’m even planning to go to this Saturday’s game! Now is what matters, right? I…I promise to never be a fair-weather fan again!

JUDGE: This case is dismissed.

PROSECUTOR: What?

JUDGE: I am dismissing this case. Sure, the defendant is a bandwagon fan. Probably a hopeless one. But let’s be honest here: Hawaii is in no position to reject these fans. The university and the football program need these fans. Loyal fans are great, but in Hawaii these so-called bandwagon fans are the difference between a profitable athletics department and one mired in red. Instead of mocking and prosecuting these fans, we should be welcoming back with open arms. Every college football team has its share of fair-weather fans. Let’s be happy when they root for their team again. This way, everyone wins. Mr. Bandwagon, you are free to go. Any final comment before you leave this courtroom?

JOE BANDWAGON: Just one. LET’S GO COOK RICE!!!

 

TRIVIA QUESTION: The Rainbow Warriors are aiming for a 3-0 start this Saturday when they host the Rice Owls. When was the last time Hawaii started the season 3-0? (Answer Below)

Stock Watch

MOVING UP:

1. COLE McDONALD: 2 games. 2 victories. 846 passing yds. 9 TDs. 0 INTS. Yeah, easy choice.

2. CHICAGO BEARS FANS. Yeah, you got Khalil Mack. Congratulations to all the Bears fans in the 808. Both of you.

3. TUA TAGOVAILOA: Secured the starting QB job at ‘Bama. Hope Jalen isn’t butt-Hurts.

4. UH SOCCER TEAM. Three straight wins, including a road sweep. The Rainbow Wahine are on a roll.

5. INDEPENDENT PRO WRESTLING. The spectacular success of the “All In” PPV this past Saturday shows that there is more to pro wrestling than the WWE.

MOVING DOWN:

5. NICK SABAN: ESPN reporter Maria Taylor asked Saban a legit question after Alabama’s easy victory over Louisville, and the crusty head coach responded like a classless jerk.

4. JIM HARBAUGH: Is he ever going to actually win a big game at Michigan?

3. ALOHA STADIUM SECURITY: Once again, not much “Aloha” on Saturday. I saw one grumpy guard bullying some tailgaters, telling them, “Gotta move back! Keep this clear!” Dude, chill out.

2. MY FANTASY FOOTBALL TEAM: It’s never good when you’re the commissioner of the league and you show up late for your own draft. I missed the first two rounds. Thankfully, AutoPick still got me Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas.

1. JON GRUDEN. He will forever be known as the head coach that got rid of Khalil Mack. Just ducky, Chucky.

TRIVIA ANSWER: The last time Hawaii started the season 3-0 was in 2007, the program’s Sugar Bowl season. Previous to that, the Rainbow Warriors started 3-0 in 1992, the year they won the Holiday Bowl.

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27 August 2018

A WEEKEND TO REMEMBER

For all the talk about Hurricane Lane and its devastating winds, it was a precocious group of Little Leaguers that completely blew us away.

Hawaii’s 3-0 victory over South Korea to claim the 2018 Little League World Series Championship is the feel-good story of the year locally, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. As a state, we’ve been through a missile scare, floods, volcano eruptions and, last week, Lane – and it’s still August. (Fortunately, at least for us on Oahu and Kauai, Lane tanked as though it were gunning for an NBA lottery pick.)

Coach Oda and the boys return home today, and then the celebration will really begin. The team will enjoy superstar status like the Beatles, Dream Team, Barack Obama and even (gasp!) Bruno Mars all rolled into one. But it’s highly unlikely that Aukai Kea, Ka‘olu Holt, Sean Yamaguchi and Co. will forget Oda’s instruction: Enjoy the moment, but stay humble.

TRIVIA QUESTION: In 1952, five years after the first Little League World Series, the first team outside the United States participated in the tournament. Name the international team. (Answer below)

Hawaii’s World Series title capped a remarkable weekend for Island sports fans. Don’t forget Kea’s stellar 15-strikeout performance against Georgia on Saturday to lead Hawaii to the U.S. championship. And the Rainbow Warriors’ 43-34 season-opening upset over Colorado State was a yuuuuge shot in the arm for the UH football program. Seriously, who expected that? (If you’re raising your hand, put it down, liar.)

QB Cole McDonald’s performance (418 passing yards, 95 rushing yards, 5 total TDs) was a revelation. Here’s a guy who, coming into the game, had thrown only 9 passes (22 yards) in his collegiate career. It does, however, lead to an interesting question: If McDonald continues playing at a Colt Brennan-like level, what do you do if you’re Chevan Cordeiro?

Here’s the most impressive stat from the game: The Hawaii offense was 7 for 7 in red zone opportunities. Last season, the Rainbow Warriors turned only 69.8 percent of their red zone chances into scores, ranking 124th out of 128 FBS schools.

There was one negative to the weekend: The Rainbow Wahine volleyball team got swept by Kansas State on Sunday. (There’s a rumor going around that the Wildcats also swept Hawaii on Saturday, but if a match is played and no one is there to witness it, does it make a sound really count?)

Volleyball fans need not press the panic button….yet. The team is still looking for the right line-up, and it will take time for the Rainbow Wahine to form an effective nucleus. Let’s see how the team performs this Thursday against Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are currently 1-2 on the season, but are considered favorites to repeat as Sun Belt Conference champions.

Speaking of UH volleyball, we’ve got an ESPN 1420 Spotlight on former All-American Nikki Taylor up on this Web site possibly by the end of today. Nikki has moved on from volleyball and is now pursuing a career in….well, watch and see.

TRIVIA ANSWER: In 1952, Montreal became the first team outside the U.S. to compete in the Little League World Series. Then, the tournament used a single-elimination format, and they lost to New Jersey in the first round.

 

Stock Watch

MOVING UP:

1. HONOLULU LITTLE LEAGUE TEAM. Who else were you expecting?

2. COLE McDONALD. Can’t give this guy enough props for his performance on Saturday. But can he deliver again against Navy?

3. UH OFFENSIVE LINE. Still so young, but so very effective. Kudos to the unit and O-line coach Mark Weber.

4. ODELL BECKHAM JR. OBJ’s got 95 million reasons to be happy.

5. MANU GINOBILI. Calls it a career after 16 seasons with the Spurs. Next stop: Zippy’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

MOVING DOWN:

5. TOM BRADY. He walked out of his weekly interview today after the host brought up Alex Guerrero (Brady’s personal trainer). Way to take the air out of a discussion, Tom.

4. CURTIS HARPER. The fighter walked out of the ring and bailed on his fight just seconds after the opening bell sounded. And no, he didn’t have to go potty.

3. RAINBOW WAHINE VOLLEYBALL. Not a good “first impression.” But let’s wait and see.

2. PHIL MUSHNICK. The New York Post‘s snowflake sportswriter criticized ESPN’s coverage of the LLWS, which is fine except for this little excerpt: “Last year, a posing home run bat-flipper on the New Jersey team met with ESPN’s full and repetitive approval. This week, the same happened with a home-run bat-flipper on Hawaii’s team. Even among children, ESPN advocates and rewards rank public immodesty within team sports.” Friendly advice to Feeble Phil: Pull that stick out of your @$$.

1. SIMONA HALEP. The U.S. Open No. 1 seed? More like “1 and done” seed.

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