As of Monday, Kahuku returned to the Punahou Invitational with a full roster. The Red Raiders struggled past Punahou II, 42-41. This was a flip-flop from Saturday’s circumstances, when just five players were in uniform and another 10 were in street clothes watching the game from the bleachers in an act of protest.
Take a look below at the official lineups provided by the Punahou Invitational tournament. The first is from Day 1, when the protest occurred. The second is from Day 2, when the protesting players suited up, but switched numbers. The public address announcer had no way to identify them since even their new (temporary?) coach didn’t know who was who, or which numbers had been switched.
It all makes sense in some way. The dominant football team had a nickname for its lockdown secondary: “Rebel Squad”. One of the most popular T-shirt designs during football season — created off campus, I believe — showed a Red Raider with a black handkerchief on his face. Old West villain style.
On Monday, Coach Alan Akina watched from the bleachers as someone else coached the Red Raiders.
What we know:
1. The Wailing Continueth
The furor that has led to the melodrama of the past few days was ignited long before. When three New Zealanders showed up at Kahuku just before the 2014-15 season, there was some confusion. Two of the players had been on Maryknoll’s team two years prior, and there were questions about the eligibility of one of the players. (That situation was never quite resolved, and the player was permitted to participate in OIA and HHSAA basketball.)
Top playmaker Samuta Avea, a springy, multi-skilled 6-3 ballhawk and scorer, was reduced to a lesser role. The complaints in the bleachers got even louder when sharpshooter Keanu Akina, the coach’s son, became a focal point. If the usually accurate gunner had not been a son of the head coach, would this have been a problem? I doubt it. Right or wrong, critics were not happy.
2. When the season ended, Avea departed the state
He moved to Utah and was bittersweet in transition. He wasted little time once he left, joining a club that traveled often for regional tournaments.
I felt then, and still do, that Avea was close to breaking out with huge fantasy-league type numbers. And if the Kiwis had never arrived — they inquired with two other schools before landing at Kahuku — who knows? Maybe two or three other players would have blossomed with more minutes. We’ll never know. What’s done was done.
3. Nobody is really talking
I heard briefly from Coach Akina on Saturday via text. I responded. I called. Nothing since. He’s pulled back for whatever reason. Has he been silenced?
On the surface, the Protest 10 got their wish. But they don’t really, really want to talk any more, or I’m certain they would’ve contacted me again. They’re polite. They articulate their points. They’re receptive to feedback. They’re not thugs. They think Coach Akina is a “good guy” in general. Akina teaches financial education, for goodness sakes.
There are squares, borderline nerds, within this whole diatribe. These guys are not naturally confrontational by any means. And yet… what if the new coach comes to the same conclusions as his predecessor?
For all we know, Coach Akina is sitting out as a formality as the school conducts an investigation. Or he’s actually been forced out. As I mentioned on Saturday, Kahuku administrators had called Punahou coach Darren Matsuda to pull out of the tournament, and he objected. Whether Akina had the Red Raiders participate in the tourney against the wishes of the administration — which had just met with parents — we don’t know for sure. Yet.