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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 5, 2010

More expected from UH in future

By Ferd Lewis

The sighs were understandable when the University of Hawai'i women's basketball team qualified for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

Meanwhile, there's relief that the UH men's team remained mathematically in the running for a tourney berth heading into tomorrow's final regular season game despite last night's 82-63 loss at Boise State.

But can we please hold off on any exuberant "chee-hoos!" and pass on high-fives?

Make no mistake about it, reaching the tournament has been a challenge for both teams and qualifying beats the alternative, sole possession of the cellar in a nine-team conference. Not a very strong one at that.

But can we resolve that this is the last season when just getting to the tournament will be considered an accomplishment? Can we raise our expectations forever higher?

Once upon a time UH teams went to the WAC Tournament with real hopes of going on a run and straight into the NCAAs.

This has become a fading memory. The Rainbow Wahine have gone five years without winning their WAC Tournament opener and the Rainbow Warriors have lost their last four, which shows you how far the sport has fallen in Mānoa. For all the money and resources UH puts into the programs, that's unacceptable.

Drama was added to the WAC Tournament this year when, due to financial constraints, the field was trimmed from nine qualifiers to eight.

The Rainbow Wahine (10-18 overall, 4-11 WAC) are due some slack because of the lateness of getting a new coaching staff on board and the fact that they have played with, basically, one senior in the lineup. Not to mention that they've been without former Hawai'i prep standout Shawna Kuehu, who has been out for the season with an injury, and minus top returnee Megan Tinnin, who sat out the season with family issues.

Even with all that they improved upon last year's 8-23 finish in what has been a season of survival and and a test of resilience.

The Rainbow Warriors, meanwhile, are 10-19 and assured a third consecutive losing season despite returning the vast majority of their roster. To be sure the early season-ending injury to Bill Amis has hurt, as has the late-season sidelining of Jeremy Lay with a hernia. Still, more was expected of the men than has, so far, been delivered.

So, yes, let's be encouraged UH teams are either in the tournament or still in the running. But let's expect much more in the future.