Star-Advertiser Top 10
Jan. 13, 2015
1. Konawaena (14) 149
2. Roosevelt (1) 128
3. Lahainaluna 109
4. Maryknoll 107
5. Punahou 98
6. Hilo 62
7. Mililani 48
8. Kamehameha 42
9. ‘Iolani 39
10. Kailua 16
Also receiving votes: Kaiser 14, Leilehua 7, Farrington 2, Nanakuli 2, Hawaii Baptist 2.
Not a lot this time. The stew is in the pot, it’s been simmering for weeks. I mean, since Konawaena left town (Honolulu) after dismantling two nationally-ranked behemoths at the ‘Iolani Classic, we’re left to ponder 1) the intricacies of a very tough ILH, and 2) the mediocrity — for the most part — of the OIA.
Konawaena played so well at the Classic, and the chemistry on that team will only get better with Ihi Victor, first-year contributors/transfers finding their groove within the system. How good can the Wildcats get while playing a league schedule that is so varied? In one way, it’s not all bad. Bobbie Awa can play her secondary contributors much more in blowout wins and they’ll gain confidence.
Also, the risk of injury to her starters declines as they rest after opening big leads in these lopsided games. That’s been Awa’s approach all these years. Otherwise, she could’ve let Lia Galdeira and, now, Chanelle Molina, play 30 minutes per game and average 35 to 40 points each time.
I’m sure there are still few doubters out there — like the two Star-Advertiser panelists who kept voting for Punahou at No. 1 in recent weeks. (That stopped, obviously, after Punahou’s loss last week. The only other team besides Konawaena to get a first-place vote in today’s poll is Roosevelt.)
If anything, it’s strange that my ballot almost replicates today’s Top 10, or vice-versa. The first six spots are identical. I have Kamehameha at No. 7 despite their blowout losses in the past two weeks. Why? They looked that good in a win at ‘Iolani.
No disrespect to Mililani, which is at No. 10 on my ballot. Just haven’t seen them yet, nor have the Lady Trojans posted a significant victory yet. That’s not exactly their fault. The OIA West, as usual, is the weak sister of the state’s D-I leagues. And the players don’t make the schedules. In fact, Mililani ventured to the Big Island and took on Konawaena at the Wildcats’ tournament, playing well enough to stay fairly close. But I need more before I bump Millville — and their standout forward, Shantel Appleby — any higher.
I do have Kaiser on my ballot at the 10 spot ahead of Kailua. Why? Though Kailua has a studette in Patria Vaimaona and two solid contributors in Tau Williams and Tara Takata, it’s going to take more time for the Surfriders to develop their supporting cast. Vital, too.
As for The Others… we can only imagine how good Farrington would’ve been with a healthy Jeneva Toilolo (knee). She was heading into a 20-20 season. Beyond that, another precipitous dropoff. Girls basketball just ain’t what it used to be in terms of quality DEPTH. I think the game statewide peaked during the Kuehu twins years when there were as many as a dozen (potential) future Division I prospects.
You can blame it on the iPhone generation’s complacency. I look at it more as simple work ethic. Playing one sport 2-3 months a year just isn’t enough, and roughly six years ago, more players knew it. Just look at the major dropoff at some OIA programs that used to be stocked — fed, really — with quality shooters and ballhandlers.
The coaches (JV, varsity, club) who developed players then and are still doing it now year round are the ones who have kept their programs alive and nourished. Sure, there’s a healthy amount of recruiting, i.e. financial aid, available to players who would otherwise play for their local (or other) public schools. But there was enough depth to go around to many schools a half-dozen seasons ago. Not so much now.
Did I say not so much this time? Not true. But be grateful. There could’ve been more, but the diarrhea of my hoopaholic pen stops right here.
I’m calling myself out for that Kaiser notch on my ballot at No. 9. I totally ignored this over the weekend: Kailua BEAT Kaiser 74-65 and I missed that. If I could vote again, I’d have Mililani at No. 9 and Kailua at No. 10.