Saint Louis coach Dan Hale: Teams exploring ‘bubble’ scenario

Dan Hale enters his second season as basketball coach at Saint Louis in an entirely unique situation. Photo by Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

Basketball teams in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu are already making secondary plans now that the league has cancelled hoops this season.

With the league no longer directly responsible for basketball this winter — the ILH announced cancellation of five winter sports on Monday — programs could “bubble” together and schedule home-and-away games to make up for the lack of an official basketball campaign. It would be somewhat similar to the way teams schedule preseason games with each other, with a maximum level of COVID-19 protocols.

“(The ILH) is juggling a lot of different scenarios right now, (including) the bubble situation. The recommendation has gone out, but what are (administrators) going to decide,” Saint Louis boys basketball coach Dan Hale said on Tuesday.

According to Hale, who is also associate athletic director, it would be something like this: two basketball teams would “bubble” together, meeting twice for games in a week. Then participating teams teams would rotate the following week or later and repeat the format.

“At Saint Louis, we’re going to have some sort of basketball experience, but what that’s going to look like, who knows? If the schools can pair up with other schools, and if they’re OK with the safety protocols, every school would have to take on the responsibility themselves with the ILH stepping to the side,” Hale said. “Home and away as a format so you can contain it and need contact tracing.”

‘Iolani girls basketball coach Dean Young and Maryknoll girls basketball coach Chico Furtado alluded to an alternate plan when the ILH announced the cancellation on Monday.

“The league cancelled the season, so what does that mean? Are we free to negotiate on our own? That’s all for our ADs to deal with,” Furtado said. “Our kids are working out three times a week under the guidelines of the league. We’re going to continue to do that and give them an outlet, and try to have some competitive value down the road. We could fold up tent and do nothing, but we owe it to give the kids a chance to work out in hopes there’s something down the road.”

Furtado saw Young’s comment regarding the alternative plan on Monday in a Hawaii Prep World story.

“I saw Dean’s quote. We at Maryknoll have the same thoughts. Hopefully, there’s three or four other schools with the same mind-sets. We’re going to decide what’s best for our kids,” he said.

Hale isn’t convinced that the basketball-season cancellation is a done deal. The ILH had held out and pushed for winter sports while public schools have been quiet and beholden to the state.

“Yes, the ILH could reverse (the cancellation) if the numbers get better. They could definitely revisit it,” Hale noted.

Oahu had a relatively low 76 new cases of COVID-19 with no deaths reported on Tuesday. That’s a dip from the 100-plus new cases reported daily last week. Tier 4, established by the city and county, established 20 cases as a standard. Tier 4 is the only tier that permits organized sports on Oahu.

“It’s a fluid situation and that’s what everybody’s working from. Every school has to feel good with what they do. We’ve been meeting almost daily going over different scenarios and safety plans,” Hale added. “We’ve done a lot of ground work. We’re exhausting every single angle we can to get these student-athletes to play in a way that’s as safe as possible.”

Hale guided Punahou to a state title before moving with his family to Virginia, where his parents reside. The Hale ohana returned to Hawaii last year and he was hired to coach at Saint Louis as construction on a new gym began. He watched his program in Virginia online. Most of the nation is playing prep sports. Hawaii is an exception.

“Different counties have different restrictions. Some counties require masks (during play). Their positivity (rate) is way higher than what we have. They’re streaming all their games because there’s no fans. We’ll see how it shakes out here. There’s just so many things happening, each week you don’t know,” Hale said.

The Crusaders have been working out with individual drills for the past month, as has the rest of the ILH.

“At first, it was kind of awkward, playing with masks on. Now, it’s not even a thing. Protocols, banded to make sure they’ve been cleared by the trainer. Break down every 10 to 15 minutes to hand sanitize and swap out the balls. There’s a lot of control going on and things have been OK. If we need to add some testing, then so be it. It’s a big financial issue, but I know that what we’re doing at Saint Louis, at the very least, we’ve got guys in the gym doing drills and skills. Doing limited work,” he said.

Even with a backup plan and maximum protocol adherence, the bubble plan could be shut down by the state later.

“They could do it. For us, it’s matter of trying as hard as we can to get the guys out and playing in a safe environment,” Hale said. “That’s what we can control. We’re trying.”


  1. Hopeful December 29, 2020 4:05 pm

    THANK YOU for coaches for thinking outside of the box and putting our kids truly first! There are lots of options to give the kids, especially the seniors, some kind of a season in a safe manner. It requires some thought, effort and will, but surely it can be done!

  2. Kainoa December 29, 2020 5:14 pm

    The reference to Tier 4 being applicable to schools is INCORRECT. Tier 4 and the tiered system set up by Mayor Caldwell says that educational institutions are EXEMPTED. It applies to organized COMMUNITY sports ONLY.

  3. Hanohano December 30, 2020 8:41 am

    Let the kids play, great to hear that other schools are thinking in the same capacity, the ILH is. League and have their ow parameters, let’s create our own league with teams that want to play for both the private and public schools that want to participate. I like that idea of creating our own league, schools provide the venue and the referees and lets play ball!!!!

  4. Bush December 30, 2020 4:35 pm

    HPW is Kainoa correct? I thought that when that lady protested at the capital news reports were that schools sports teams can’t play until we are in tier 4?

  5. Kainoa January 1, 2021 2:13 am

    Exclusion for sports associated with educational institutions no

    Misinformed decision-making by the ILH. Student-athletes will miss out of an important part of the high school student experience.

    There are positives to build on. Tourism to the islands has increased yet the level of infections has remained the same. More schools have transitioned from full distance learning to a hybrid schedule yet the level of infections has remained the same as a school system. More businesses such as restaurants have reopened and welcomed back more customers and employees yet the level of infections for the State has remained the same. The greatest positive is that a vaccine is finally available and vaccinations has started.

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