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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 19, 2001

Transcript of live chat with Mike Wilton

Stephen Tsai: Aloha. Welcome to The Advertiser's chat with UH volleyball coach Mike Wilton. Coach Wilton now will make an opening statement.

Mike Wilton: Welcome to our chat room. I look forward to this opportunity to answer any questions that any of you might have.

Tsai: How is Eyal Zimet feeling?

Wilton: He's feeling good. He practiced today. He has pain, but he's going to deal with it because he's a tought guy.

Tsai: Will he start?

Wilton: Yes.

Tsai: kimochi asks: How would you compared this team to the 1996 team?

Wilton: I won't do that. I can't because it is different individuals and a different time. I think every team has a unique personality of its own. So I won't compare them.

Tsai: How can attendance be improved?

Wilton: I'd like to think that attendance can be improved by lowering prices. I realize there are some people who would not like me to say that stuff but that's qwhat I think. Particularly I think we ought to lower prices for students and make more lower bowl seats available to them.

Tsai: How are ticket sales going for Saturday's playoff match against USC?

Wilton: I don't know at this point. There has been a steady stream of people coming in both days.

Tsai: kimochi asks: How do you plan to approach BYU if UH beats USC this weekend?

Wilton: Well, I'm being asked to do something I tell my players not to do. To look past an opponent. However, after having played BYU twice, we're certain that there are areas that we need to get better at and we've begun working on those things already.

Tsai: Is USC different from when you played it last?

Wilton: We understand that number 11 Eli Fairfield is no longer with the team. That changes them significantly. And will change how we prepare for them.

Tsai: How will you prepare for them without Fairfield?

Wilton: We would expect that they would set the ball less to Fairfield's replacement. And set more balls to number 5 Brooke Billings.

Tsai: vballgirl11 asks: Why does Kyle Dennitz gets such limited playing time?

Wilton: Kyle Dennitz is a great guy and a good volleyball player, however, Kimo Tuyay is our starting center.

Tsai: nalii7 asks: Is everyone healthy for Saturday's match?

Wilton: Yes.

Tsai: 919 says Hi

Wilton: Hi back.

Tsai: vballgirl11 asks: Why does Kimo start ahead of Kyle?

Wilton: Because Kimo does a better job as a center.

Tsai: What is your contract status?

Wilton: I have one. (laughs).

Tsai: kimochi asks: 2001 Warriors– serious or playful? Got any chemistry?

Wilton: The team is both serious and playful. And has tons of chemistry.

Tsai: nalii7 asks: Do you know if Saturday's match will be televised?

Wilton: Yes it will. Game time 7 o'clock on K5, the Home Team.

Tsai: final four asks: I have watched the interviews of the Bows before, and they seem very positive

Wilton: Well, I think our team is confident in their abilities despite losing twice at BYU and is very much looking forward to Saturday night's match.

Tsai: bows50 asks: Who will start, Tony Ching or Torry Tukuafu?

Wilton: Right now Torry has a slight edge. First of all, I think Tony is great coming off the bench to give us a spark. And secondly, despite Torry not having a great performance at BYU, he still has played very well in previous games.

Tsai: 919 says: I heard Costas jumped on the table after beating UCLA. Is that true?

Wilton: After we beat UCLA and congratulated them, Costas got excited and climbed up on the referee stand.

Tsai: seu asks: When UH wins on Saturday, will the next match be here as well?

Wilton: No, if we are fortunate enough to win on Saturday, we will probably be going to Provo, Utah if BYU beats UC Irvine.

Tsai: pouncer84 asks: do all of the exhibitions at the end of the regular season hurt the team's sharpness?

Wilton: No. Because it was either play those exhibitions or play nobody, which wouldn't have helped us at all.

Tsai: kimochi asks: How has freshman Kimo Tuyay grown over the season as a player?

Wilton: He has experienced all that college volleyball has to offer. He's progressing and has done a very good job as a freshman setter.

Tsai: Are you planning any special promotions for Saturday?

Wilton: I am just the poor volleyball coach and that will be handled by our sports marketing department, so I really don't know.

Tsai: kimochi asks: How is the tendinitis in Costas' knee?

Wilton: He said that he experienced no pain or discomfort at BYU or through our three practices that we've already had this week.

Tsai: pouncer84 asks: Can you tell us anything about the recruit from England?

Wilton: I can tell you that the recruit from England is still a possibility but other players have entered the picture. So he is just one of several that we are recruiting at that position.

Tsai: Will Rob Drew return next year?

Wilton: A good question. Rob Drew is doing a lot better. He weighs about 170 pounds now. Before his sickness he weighed 245 pounds. So he's got a long way to go.

Tsai: What is JoJo's status? Will he play next season?

Wilton: JoJo's status is that he is a redshirt this year and he should be one of our guys who plays next year.

Tsai: vballgirl11 says: They say Kimo is better at blocking than Kyle, but the team had trouble during the matches with UCSD and Long Beach.

Tsai: Does Kyle's lack of playing time hurt when he plays in a match?

Wilton: Kimo Tuyay is our setter. And so he gets to play almost all the time.

Tsai: kimoch asks: Which was the best match for your team this season?

Wilton: Oh boy, that's another good question. There's been a lot of them. I think coming from behind 11-13 in game 5 at UCLA was certainly a great match.

Tsai: vegasdtr asks: Would being ranked No. 2 have helped the seeding appeal if the rankings were released earlier?

Wilton: No. Because the procedure that was followed to break the three-way tie has been in place from previous years. But I personally was unaware of it. It is not a good procedure. But it is the one that they follow, where they compare and combine the wins and losses in the matches that the three teams play against each other.

Tsai: 919 asks: Are you interested in recruiting any of hte local high school players?

Wilton: We are very interested in local high school players. We try to get as many of them to come as we can. We go out of our way to do that.

Tsai: final four asks: Except for the graduating seniors, will all of the starters return?

Wilton: Yes.

Tsai: Which local players are you looking at?

Wilton: I can't divulge that because of recruiting rules.

Tsai: vballgirl11 asks: Will all of the reserves return?

Wilton: Sure.

Tsai: vegasdtr asks: do you get a lot of walk-ons during your tryouts?

Wilton: We hope to. With just 4.5 scholarships to give, getting as many walkons as possible is very good for us.

Tsai: 919 asks: Are you happy with the rally-scoring system or do you prefer the old way?

Wilton: You know, another good question, I've gotten very used to the rally scoring. It seemed so long ago that we played the other way. So I guess I like it.

Tsai: vballgirl11 asks: Will players participate in the camp this summer? And, if so, who?

Wilton: Yes, players will participate and Tony Ching, Kyle Dennitz, Costas and Eyal, Brenton and Mau and whoever else is going to summer school.

Tsai: nalii7 asks: What does (your son) Aaron do as an assistant? If you were not available for some reason, could he take over for you?

Wilton: Well, first, his job is to assist Tino Reyes and I . He charts our team during matches . He works with Kimo during the match and he also helps generally everybody. And if I were unable to be there, Tino would be the head coach.

Tsai: 919 asks: Do you feel the strike affected your team's performance in Provo?

Wilton: No.

Tsai: What is the future of men's college volleyball?

Wilton: The amount of universities that sponsor men's teams is about 75 or 78 or somewhere in there. And there are only 21 division I programs. I would like to think that men's volleyball will be around for a long time. I hope so.

Tsai: final four asks: Will Costas be taking "home grown" food on future trips to remain healthy?

Wilton: We just returned from a trip to BYU and also we had a trip to Los Angeles over spring break. Costas did not have any problems on either of those trips. So we think he has a good routine right now.

Tsai: Are you happy with the support you receive from the administration?

Wilton: Yes.

Tsai: What modifications would you like to see in the scoring system?

Wilton: I would like to experiment with rally score games to 25 but when one team gets to 22 their last three points have to be scored the old fashioned way when they serve.

Tsai: kimochi asks: Is Kimo back in the groove after hurting his hand? I heard he was in a funk for a while.

Wilton: Kimo's doing fine.

Tsai: vballgirl11 says: The water polo match was great. Where were you?

Wilton: Other obligations.

Tsai: 919 says: Some feel the MPSF has grudge against UH men's volleyball. Any truth to that?

Wilton: I don't think so.

Tsai: honda50: Are you recruiting any foreign players for next season?

Wilton: No.

Tsai: Why not?

Wilton: We have several scholarships to give. One has already been given to a young man from California and we have offered the other from a young man from Puerto Rico, which I don't think is a foreign country.

Tsai: Nalii7 asks: What is the status of Geronimo Chala?

Wilton: JoJo is practicing with us and he will be a suit up player next year.

Tsai: final four asks: Maulia LaBarre is a crowd favorite. How is he coming along?

Wilton: He is progressing very well , especially considering he comes from a limited volleyball background.

Tsai: BYU coach Carl McGown has said he would like you to succceed him when he retires. Your thoughts?

Wilton: I'm the coach at the University of Hawaii and I like it here.

Tsai: Would you consider it?

Wilton: This line of thinking if very hypothetical. But I would say that if the situation arose I would be obligated to listen.

Tsai: How much longer do you want to coach?

Wilton: I'd like to coach 15 or 20 more years.

Tsai: And then what would you like to do?

Wilton: I'd like to go on a church mission with my wife.

Tsai: kimochi asks: Who brings the most fire to the team? The most laughs?

Wilton: That is a good question. And there are different players that bring fire in different ways. As far as laughs, Vernon causes many smiles. As does almost everyone on the team. This team likes to have fun.

Tsai: Aside from Tino and your son, are there any other former players who you see as being coaches?

Wilton: Well, there are some former players who arein coaching and doing quite well. But as far as projecting them into this program the coaching job that Aaron currently has is a part-time position and I'm not too sure how attractive that would be in Hawaii's economy.

Tsai: Why do you ride a mo-ped?

Wilton: Because my wife drives one car and my daughter drives the other. So I got stuck with the mo-ped.

Tsai: What's your best off-court memory of this year's team?

Wilton: I suppose that it is a conglomeration of memories of how these young men care for each other, respect each other and genuinely like each other.

Tsai: You are rumored to be a candidate for the Texas women's job? Is that true?

Wilton: No. It is not.

Tsai: andrewi says: I think we need to concentrate on blocking to win in the playoffs. BYU outblocked us both nights. What do you think?

Wilton: I thinnk we need to pass the ball better so that our offense won't be so easily predicted, thus making it possible for the other team to block more balls than us.

Tsai: vegasdtr asks: Are either senior going to continue playing on the pro level?

Wilton: I would think so. Certainly both are good enough to do that.

Tsai: 919 asks: Do you like your draw of getting USC better than playing Pepperdine?

Wilton: After our initial disliking of the process of deciding who was getting which seed we turned the page on it and so my answer is yes we are happy to be playing USC.

Tsai: Do you prefer Brenton Davis with long or short hair?

Wilton: I think Brenton Davis is more handsome with short hair, like he's had for the last two years but that's just my opinion.

Tsai: kimochi asks: Which MPSF team do you enjoy playing the most?

Wilton: The answer is at this moment in time USC.

Tsai: uh warrior dejan... asks: do you keep in contact with former UH volleyball players?

Wilton: Yes, we do.

Tsai: Which ones?

Wilton: Nick Berger, Jason Ring, Sivan Leoni, Yuval Katz, Naveh Milo and Rick Tune and Mason Kuo and on and on and on.

Tsai: Which former players have been the most supportive of the program?

Wilton: A lot of them. That's going to be another long list again, you know.

Tsai: final four says: Rick Tune has gone to coach at Punahou. Will Aaron be interested in coaching at St. Louis?

Wilton: I don't know. I guess I should ask Aaron that question.

Tsai: lily asks: is there any funny moment, in particular, you'll always remember with the players?

Wilton: I don't know there's been a lot of them. I don't know if I can think of any.

Tsai: Of all of the signs at the arena, which is your most favorite?

Wilton: During a volleyball match, I have to admit that my attention is focused on what's going on in the orange area in the middle of the floor. So I don't get to see very many of the great signs that people make.

Tsai: How can fans join your booster club?

Wilton: They can call Basil Sparlin at 623-8786.

Tsai: vballgirl11 asks: Do the players see our signs?

Wilton: Yes, they do and they like them.

Tsai: What's the best thing about coaching in Hawaii?

Wilton: The best thing about coaching in Hawaii, first of all, is getting to coach the young men. The next best thing is the great support we get. Wonderful fans that have a lot of class and who show a lot of aloha for our players and our program.

Tsai: What nickname do you prefer: Warriors or Rainbows?

Wilton: Our players have decided that they like Warriors and so that's what we're called.

Tsai: dejan is a stud asks: Is it fair to say that Costas deserved every award he received?

Wilton: Yes. And there have been some times when he deserved other awards that he didn't get. in my opinion.

Tsai: vballgirl11 asks: Will there be new uniforms next year? (she says the shorts are a little bright)

Wilton: Yes there will.

Tsai: we'll take a couple of more questions. thanks. ... 919 asks: Would you consider coaching the national team, if you were asked?

Wilton: No. That's too much time away from family.

Tsai: vegasdtr asks: Which player has made the most progress this season?

Wilton: That's a hard question. I think there has been a lot of progress made by everybody. It is hard to say. I could say Dejan, from the standpoint of coming off an injury rehabilitation year to becoming better than he every was. I think Eyal upgraded his game. I think Costas has upgraded his game. Brenton Davis has made a tremendous improvement from last year to this year.

Tsai: final four says: that orange aloha p rint shorts is terrific. Can fans get similar material? Or shirt? Etc.?

Wilton: I like 'em too. And those shorts and aloha shirts with that print in orange or blue can be purchased at your neighborhood Local Motion store.

Tsai: Thank you for joining our chat with Coach Wilton. The coach will make a final comment.

Wilton: I am overwhelmed by the many responses and happily so. I hope that many of you will come and support us at the Stan Sheriff Center this Saturday night. This is the last time so see us play here in Hawaii this year.

Tsai: Thanks again. A full transcript will be posted shortly.