Don’t count out UH against Notre Dame

Bobby Curran
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Friday - December 19, 2008
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Football fans in Hawaii were extremely pleased when Notre Dame agreed to come to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. And while I’ve heard some carping about the Fighting Irish not being what they’ve been, it’s still Notre Dame. There is no team that could bring more tradition or media attention than the Irish. The game guarantees a huge crowd and a large television audience. It also should be a terrific reminder to all those seeking a reprieve from the ice and snow on the Mainland - a beautiful afternoon in Hawaii will serve as a three-hour-plus infomercial for the local tourism industry.


 

As an added bonus, it looks like it could be an excellent football game. Hawaii is 0-2 against ND, both times as significant under-dogs. This time the teams look fairly evenly matched. A win for the Warriors would put an exclamation point on the first season for head coach Greg McMackin. There weren’t a whole lot of folks who were expecting UH to be playing on Christmas Eve back when the team was 1-3.

If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, remember the house is scaled, so depending on where you choose to sit you can get a pretty good deal, although most remaining seats are in the end zones.

The last eight-team Rainbow Classic basketball tournament is about to begin. There will be four days of competition starting on Dec. 27. This year’s field includes Vermont, George Washington, Colorado State, Buffalo, Pepperdine, Colorado, Coppin State and Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors are showing steady improvement while integrating four new starters into their lineup.

For those who were questioning Hawaii’s highly touted recruit Rod Flemings, the game against Eastern Washington provided some answers.


Flemings broke out with a 37-point performance, and he did it without taking a single bad shot. He shot 16-23, grabbed five boards and dished out four assists, and he’s not quite 100 percent, with the lingering effects of an ankle injury. Early indications are that the conference is wide open. Utah State has played well, but nobody else has distinguished themselves in the early season. Though picked to finish near the bottom, the Rainbow Warriors have the potential to surprise.

Last Sunday I awoke my two boys in the pre-dawn darkness, and despite some steady rain, took them out in ponchos to where we could watch the runners in the Honolulu Marathon go by. We live near the halfway point, and they marveled at the speed of those near the front. I was reflecting on how big the event has become - we may take it for granted, but this is a big-time annual show and a model for how to draw sports tourism dollars into the state.

Speaking of sports tourism, the inaugural Hawaii Polynesia-Mainland football classic may not have drawn a huge crowd, but it has terrific potential. And a national cable audience can’t hurt.

Give the organizers credit for bringing this to fruition after only beginning to discuss this last April. And kudos to Mayor Mufi Hannemann and HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya for guiding the project along.

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