Maryknoll rolls as Kahuku suits up just 5

The Maryknoll Spartans and Kahuku Red Raiders figured to have a battle this morning.

Instead, only five Kahuku suited up (see more below), and seventh-ranked Maryknoll rolled to a 79-37 win at the Punahou Invitational. Hayato Kamata scored 11 points, all in the first half, for Maryknoll. Jaylen Cain added 10 as the Spartans used their reserves early and often.

Keanu Akina poured in 20 points for Kahuku. Taimona Wright added 10.

12:35 p.m.
I got here after the game was done and word is that a bunch of Kahuku players sat out in protest of the call-up of some freshmen from the JV team. I haven’t confirmed this via the Red Raiders head coach or any players yet, but that’s what I’ve heard from four different sources here at the tournament.

So Kahuku played and lost with just five players in uniform. The protesting players watched in street clothes. Yes, they made the trip to the tournament and sat out. More later.

1:40 p.m.
So I spent the last few minutes chatting with some Kahuku players, all seniors, when someone passed the word that they wanted to talk with me. And this is what I think. There is a trust issue between them and Coach Alan Akina. That may sound preposterous to some fans because Kahuku is so physically talented every year. But two freshmen were called up. Fact. Some of the seniors are feeling like Coach doesn’t trust them enough with on-court responsibilities. The feelings are real. Fact.

They said there were 13 players on the roster, so logically, there’s space for two players. Every coach in pretty much every situation wants a full roster over the course of an entire season. Attrition is part of the deal. Injuries. Academic casualties. Illness. Family emergencies.

Without having a chance to speak with Coach Akina, this is what I surmise. From what I know about him, he’s been a lifer for Kahuku basketball. He coaches their team in offseason leagues, making the trek from Big Red Country to town in many leagues for high school and middle school leagues. He’s done this for years, not just in the past few as the high school head coach.

On paper, yes, Kahuku usually can stand to pick up a few more guards, get more ballhandlers. True of many, many programs . The players who spoke to me have their points. They want to be respected a little more. Trusted a little more. But this is the kind of stuff that should handled in family. They said they’ve already tried to talk with their head coach and their athletic director. But let’s face it: no AD is going to tell a coach that he or she has personally hired that his manner and/or X’s and O’s need an overhaul. And when it does — this sort of happened at Kalaheo in the offseason with Alika Smith, except in his case official complaints were made by a couple of players, and nothing has been filed by Kahuku players — just about every coach would rather hit the road than have someone outside the team dictate anything.

And yet, there are, according to the seniors who sat out in protest, other JV players who refused to move up to Varsity today. That’s a key reason why Coach Akina had just five players in uniform this morning.

It’s complicated, but my hope is all the parties involved have said their piece, agreed to disagree and are ready to move forward together. I think it’s the same feeling and thought most of us non-Kahuku graduates have. We enjoy what that community has brought to prep sports in Hawaii all these years. To see it disintegrate, or even the possibility of that, is incomprehensible, really.

No marriage is perfect. No family is, either. I’m glad the seniors, who told me point blank that they believe their coach is a good man, are handling this in the most mature manner that they know. There are three days left in this Punahou Invitational. Hopefully, they make their mark on the court the rest of the way.

3:55 p.m.
I haven’t spoke with Coach Akina yet, though he did text earlier this afternoon. I spoke with Punahou coach Darren Matsuda, who’s had more stress than usual in running this event. Recently, he fielded a call from Kahuku administration, saying that the team would pull out of the tournament. That would’ve really set the tourney back. There are teams that spent a lot of money, Matsuda said, to travel here from China, California and Oregon. Matsuda managed to talk Kahuku out of dropping out.

I heard that info earlier, but Matsuda simply confirmed it.

Kamehameha coach Greg Tacon is among those who back Akina on this matter.

“I don’t have any other thoughts about it. I support Alan,” he said.

Kahuku’s situation was brought to the forefront when two parents, according to Matsuda, pushed hard for a meeting with administrators. It was then that they pushed to have Akina forced out. That’s when the school called Matsuda. It wasn’t exactly a strong show of support by the administration of Akina.

“I support him,” Matsuda said.


  1. Reel Talk December 27, 2015 3:16 pm

    Horrible that these kids are sitting out. First of all this should be taken care of before the season or after the season. Very nearsighted. It looks bad on the school. Sitting out affects someone’s tournament (Punahou). It also affects teams (such as Maryknoll) that wanted to play a quality team and work to improve. The score showed it was lopsided and arguably a waste of time for both schools involved.

    I like the way the coach runs his team. They play hard and they show improvement. First of all these are kids so they will be very selective what kind of information they share. They will most likely tell you what is wrong and how everything is the coach’s fault. But I guarantee it goes both ways.

    It’s like raising a child. They are going to tell the adults what they need to hear or think they need to hear. They will leave out many important details. That is why many courts don’t take information and testimony too serious when it comes from a minor.

    Now it’s challenging to have a coach who has sons on the team. And many parents and kids will say it’s favoritism when a coach’s son plays a lot. But I seen the son and he is really good and possibly the best player on the team with or without his dad coaching.

    I also don’t know how showing up to the game to protest makes anything better. It just brings negative attention to the situation. It’s unfortunate for the Coach who is a good guy, the players who are still playing, the school, and the kids who sat out.

  2. 88 December 27, 2015 3:54 pm

    Main thing is that it’s bringing attention to something these kids feel strongly about. You don’t know the situation and neither do I so stop trying to pass judgment on these kids. They felt something was wrong and had the B@LLs to do something about it.

  3. Reel Talk December 27, 2015 4:44 pm

    So anytime something goes wrong then kids should do something about it? Who cares about the other team, their family, the tournament, and the other kids on the team. There are many different ways to handle this. They could sit out of practice and then it wouldn’t affect the tourney and other teams. Let’s remember they are guests. Obviously this was done to get attention since the result from Administration didn’t go their way. I would be more impressed if they had the B@LLs to handle this in a more appropriate manner.

    I guess based on how you think, anytime kids don’t agree with a coach they should sit out, show up to the game, and bring attention to the situation. And if you do that then you have B@LLs.

  4. Spartan December 27, 2015 6:26 pm

    I think this decision just puts the team, school, and kids in a bad light. We are not talking about marching for freedom, marching for gender equity, or marching for your race to improve your quality of life. We are talking about some of the kids’ feelings about how they feel Coach Akina favors his son or sons. This is not that uncommon. Many parent coach their kids and often feelings are hurt since everyone wants to be the star. Let’s be honest, the kid can play! Any smart coach would feature Keanu because he is good! When Hiram Akina was coaching, he ran most of his sets for his son. Why you ask? His son was really good. Instead of looking in the mirror and asking one’s self how can I improve, this is now a sideshow. I feel for the 5 kids who played.

    Now I can understand if the coach was using harassing language or was physically violent. Then adults should step in and make sure their is a safe environment. But this is not happening. This has to do with the coach’s philosophy. Well then if that is the case every team should have kids sitting out then showing up to the gym to make a spectacle since many families and players often don’t agree with a coach’s philosophy or style of coaching. But those kids don’t quit on the school or the team.

    I would like to say great job Coach Akina! You are a class act and have dedicated so much of your time to help kids. It’s unfortunate that some people feel this is the only way to get their way. I wonder how this kind of thinking will affect them in their adult lives. I wonder where are the parents during all of this?

  5. 88 December 27, 2015 7:32 pm

    Yes! Anytime something goes wrong kids should do something about it.
    Like I said we don’t know what’s going on so don’t pass judgment. Obviously it has to be something serious enough for these kids to do what they did.

    Spartan the kid can shoot the lights out the gym but he gets taken advantage of big time when it comes time for defense or bringing the ball down court.

  6. Reel Talk December 28, 2015 9:14 am

    So if a kid doesn’t agree with how a class is taught, then boycott? If a kid has a job at 7-11 and doesn’t like the hours then boycott? And for all we know it could be blow out of proportion. Hiram’s son wasn’t known for defense and could shoot the ball well. This is HS basketball, it’s easy to hide weak defenders on the court. It’s rare that a Hawaii HS team has 5 scorers on the court so being a defensive liability shouldn’t be that huge. I just think there is a better way to handle this than show up and make a spectacle.

    Showing up takes attention away from the game and the kids who are playing. Just my 2 cents…

  7. Spartan December 28, 2015 9:54 am

    So funny how this game involved the Spartans and I chose my name due to my college affiliation from MSU. Anyway there is always jealousy and often hurt feelings when a parent coaches their kids. It’s nearly impossible to coach your own kid at this level. If you are too soft on them then people will claim favoritism. Sometimes the parent is harder on them which can make the child despise the parent. No matter what, it’s nearly impossible to be objective. It’s just not a good recipe. With that being said I just don’t like the kids sitting out. It speak of selfishness although that probably wasn’t the intent. I don’t expect teenagers to consider the ramifications of their actions. That’s why they are kids. But like mentioned above they are guests of a tourney. They were invited thinking they had a full varsity squad. Parents pay to watch these games and by the looks of the score, it wasn’t a very good one. And the kids who decided to play are put into a very uncomfortable situation. There are no winners here. This is something I would like to see taken care of after the season. By what scoringlive reported, the parents and kids went to admin and the coach wasn’t removed. Let’s assume the powers that be did their due diligence and ruled in favor of the coach. Obviously this smells like a case of the kid who wants to take his ball and run since the outcome wasn’t what was desired or expected.

  8. 88 December 28, 2015 2:47 pm

    What if the Administration told the Coach not to attend this tournament until the conflict that was going on within the team was resolved but the Coach decided to play in it anyway?
    What if this demonstration by the kids was about something else other than about them being selfish? There are a lot of “what ifs”. Something tells me that there is more going on here. Should be interesting…

  9. Spartan December 28, 2015 6:38 pm

    So word on the street is either Coach Akina stepped down or he has been relieved of his duties. If this is accurate, then this is a sad day for Hawaii High School Sports. Coach Akina is one of the good guys!

  10. Spartan December 28, 2015 7:21 pm

    Now I am hearing mini suspension. Still sad! The coaching ohana around Hawaii support Coach Akina!

  11. 88 December 28, 2015 8:47 pm

    I hope Kahuku’s next coach uses the talent he is surrounded with a little better.

  12. Spartan December 28, 2015 11:58 pm

    Unless Coach K or Dean Smith rises from the grave, the talent Coach Akina was given was used fine. How do I know? Most coaches around the island think Coach Akina is a good coach and is doing fine. The two quotes above say it all from the Kamehameha and Punahou Coaches.

    Kamehameha coach Greg Tacon is among those who back Akina on this matter.

    “I don’t have any other thoughts about it. I support Alan,” he said.

    Kahuku’s situation was brought to the forefront when two parents, according to Matsuda, pushed hard for a meeting with administrators. It was then that they pushed to have Akina forced out. That’s when the school called Matsuda. It wasn’t exactly a strong show of support by the administration of Akina.

    “I support him,” Matsuda said.

    If you go around the island, you will notice that almost all coaches on Oahu feel the same. It’s been the talk of the town from coaches who support Coach Akina from Iolani to Maryknoll to Moanalua to Mililani. I have yet to find one local coach who would do anything different given the talent that he was dealt.

  13. 88 December 29, 2015 1:11 am

    Of course they are going to support him. He is an easy coach to coach against, duh….90% of the plays he runs is for 1 kid. How the hell you going lose the OIA Championship to Farington when their starting line up can’t even crack the 6 foot mark and Kahuku’s starting 5 averaged 6’5. The best player on the team wasn’t even his first option. The first option on offense was always a corner three by the shortest kid on the court. And if he wasn’t open the ball would be passed around until he was. Now the best player is in Utah.. The favoritism is just too obvious. Watch the games and you will see

  14. 88 December 29, 2015 2:32 am

    Have you even watched any of the games? The talent on last years team was ridiculous… In no way, shape or form were these kids talents used to its highest ability. The best player on the team transfers out and you think there is no problem with the Coach? If i was an opposing coach i would be begging for Akina to come back.

  15. hilife December 29, 2015 8:26 am

    BB sounds like you are one of the disgruntled parents. I feel for you my child played high school sports and he hardly got any play time. But at the same time what coach would not play his best players in order to win? As for the player who left you shouldn’t assume he left because of the coach unless you heard it straight from the horses mouth. If he left because of the coach, why didn’t he just transfer to another school in Hawaii? I read somewhere that he left, because there are better opportunities for him to be noticed in the mainland than in Hawaii.

  16. Spartan December 29, 2015 2:17 pm

    I agree with you hilife, after reading this post I now know that 88 has a horse in the race. Sir, your post screams of subjectivity. And after talking to many peers last night at the Punahou Invitational last night I can guarantee you that the reason they support Coach Akina is many think he’s a fine coach and a genuinely good guy, a real gentleman. It has nothing to do with what you perceive as an easy person to coach against. Please don’t make such blasphemous statements.

    I saw Kahuku last year. The talent was not ridiculous. It was athletic, but the team I saw had about 1 sound ball handler. They lacked high basketball IQ in my opinion, often demonstrating by late game shot selection. I saw kids dribbling with their heads down. I saw kids dribbling with their inside hands.

    Now if you are talking purely running and jumping then they might has the best athletes in Hawaii. If you are talking about footwork, being fundamentally sound, pivoting, shot form, etc., you are gravely incorrect.

    Many times kids transfer out for reasons outside of the coach. Justice Sueing Jr., left Maryknoll. Liloa Nobriga left Iolani when Coach Doc Muguishi was the coach. Marcus Keene left Moanalua. Kids leave for so many reasons ranging from parent’s jobs, better opportunities, more competition on the mainland, etc.

    Look at Kaiser, they have several transfers. Scheer left Kailua and Coach Marciel is an outstanding coach there.

    In my opinion you seem to have a lot of jealousy or animosity towards Coach Akina. I am sorry if your son didn’t play as much. But instead of attacking Coach Akina, the positive way to approach this is to thank the man for donating many long hours. At the end of the day this is just an extracurricular activity.

    As for the other coaches, we don’t really care who is coaching. As true competitors we want to coach against the best and we want their best player to be able to play, not out with injury or grades. That is competition is about, to test yourself against the best, not the worst. I don’t know who taught you about competition, but I am a little suspicious.

  17. Spartan December 29, 2015 2:26 pm

    @hilife, I read the same thing. I 100% agree with you hilife. 88 sounds like a disgruntled parent. So sad and unfortunate for the coach, but also as a teachable moments for these kids. They are being taught it’s okay to complain and you will get your way.

    Here is a story:

    It says nothing about leaving due to the coach. I am curious, do you just make stuff up? This smells of libel. I hope you have evidence and can prove it.

  18. Reel Talk December 29, 2015 3:02 pm

    This is the “reel talk” for everyone. Let’s read in between the lines. It’s easy to say there is nepotism involved with Coach Alan & his son. But the “reel” is his son is BY FAR the best player out there. Anyone with half a brain would run sets for him. The reason why the kids and parents are using the dad is coaching his son argument is that it’s convenient. The “reel” truth is many kids and parents had their feelings hurt last year. Why might you ask? It has to do with the 3 Kiwis (Green, Harris, Brooke). Many homegrown kids and their families are still upset since the 3 Kiwis beat them out for playing time. Anyone with half a brain knew that those 3, Akina’s kid, and the kid who transferred to Utah should have played the majority of minutes.

    But instead of working harder or teaching their kids to perform at a higher level, the easy thing to do was complain to admin. Hell, why work harder to improve their game and get a better outcome? That would be too hard. It’s easier to complain and get our way. Then this year, still upset, and running plays for his son just adds salt to a wound that these families could have fixed instead of complaining, they sit out and want the coach’s head again. Ho Hum. Thats the reel talk….

  19. Reel Talk December 29, 2015 3:03 pm

    Hey hilife I agree 88 sounds like a disgruntled parent. Thats the reel talk.

  20. 88 December 29, 2015 7:08 pm

    Wow, dont get your panties in a bunch now freinds….. If Coaching is not the problem than why, in your own words now, The lack of basketball IQ? Why the lack of fundamental dribbling? Are not these things basic skills that a Coach is suppose to teach his players? I do not have a son playing on the team but i do have eyes and my eyes show me that last years talent was not used properly. Now Kahuku played tonight so how did they do? Were plays designed for other kids or was it the same pass the ball around until the corner 3 was open for 1 kid to take the shot? These boys deserve better than what they were getting. I know it, people who watch Kahuku play know it, the School Admin knows it and the PLAYERS who sat out in protest know it. Maybe you 2 are the ones who have something personal going on with the Coach.

  21. Red One December 29, 2015 8:29 pm

    My perspective is a high school coach can only do so much in 2-3 months. He’s not a magician. The way they play has a lot to do prior to making the team. Most improvements are made in the off-season where the kids have 8-9 months.

  22. hilife December 29, 2015 8:37 pm

    88 did you see the stars for todays game? High scorer for Kahuhu, Keanu Akina with 14 pts, most rebounds 10, most assists 4, 2 steals & 2 blocks. Check what the other players stats were. Not even close.

  23. 88 December 29, 2015 9:17 pm

    How many shots did he put up to get those points compared to the other kids? Lets see, hhhmmmm, 4 of 11 shooting and 6 out of 16 free throws.. What was i thinking? You obviously won the argument there hilife. You sure showed me… The stats are mind blowing… Its a good thing no one else on the team shot the ball 11 times. I doubt any of them would come close to making in the basket 4 times.

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