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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 29, 2004

NCAA did not do UH any favors

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

If you are Dave Shoji today, what would worry you and the University of Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine volleyball team more:

Being banished to the Rocky Mountains for the first two rounds of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament or wondering where you could have gone if the NCAA selection committee wasn't doing you a favor?

If the committee sent you to ninth-ranked Colorado State, a Sweet 16 team four of the last five seasons, at 5,000-feet, where would have been its idea of a "bad" pairing?


Let's review for a moment. These Rainbow Wahine have gone 28-0 and are the nation's only unbeaten team. They are No. 1 among fellow coaches who vote in the USA Today/College Sports Television poll.

And in recognition of those lofty distinctions the Rainbows not only won't host the first two rounds of the 64-team NCAA Tournament, they're being packed off to Fort Collins, Colo., where they open with the University of Colorado and will likely meet host Colorado State (26-3) in the second round.

If UH wins there, then it is off to the frozen tundra, Green Bay, Wis. Indoors, hopefully.

Did Shoji forget to send the selection committee macadamia nuts last Christmas? Did somebody at headquarters not get an umbrella in their drink here last time?

"I think they have among the toughest draws," said Cathy Nelson, an ESPN volleyball analyst.

The funny thing — though the humor seems to have escaped everybody here — is that the NCAA maintains it was actually looking out for UH.


"Instead of sending them (the Rainbows) clear to the east side of the country, we tried to send them in the middle so travel wouldn't be as devastating for them," said Sharon K. Cessna, NCAA director of championships. "And, it seemed that as they progressed through that it would be the best bracket for them."

The NCAA maintains it was easier to ship Hawai'i off to the continent than send three teams to the Stan Sheriff Center despite the likelihood of sellouts here. Cessna points out that the committee also sent No. 4 seed Minnesota (28-4) packing to New Haven, Conn.

But the Golden Gophers ended up with a plate of twinkies playing at Yale with Albany, Long Island and Georgia Tech at the same site. As a bonus, they get to come home to a regional the next week.

If records and strength of schedule are to have little or no meaning, why does the committee even bother considering them?

But now that the curious deed has been done, Shoji has bigger concerns than trying to figure out the NCAA's twisted thinking.

After all, if he sounds off now, you wonder where the Rainbow Wahine might be sent next year when the selection committee really gets mad at him.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.