Volley Shots

Shoji asks "What do we have to do?"

March 21st, 2013

This was Ann's story this morning. Any thoughts? Don't know what his 'out of the box' ideas are other than one that was floated here a while back where UH 'hosts' a subregional in Las Vegas.

Canceling the Hawaii-Brigham Young football game Dec. 7 at Aloha Stadium might be a deal maker for Rainbow Wahine volleyball.

The anger UH coach Dave Shoji directed at the NCAA volleyball selection committee last fall, when his eighth-ranked team was not seeded in the top 16, has not subsided. But the guy who should become his sport's winningest coach in September said he will wait until the Wahine open their season before he approaches anyone on the committee with some of his "out of the box" ideas.

"We want to make sure we're in position to be in the top 16," Shoji said. "Otherwise it doesn't make much sense, if you're not going to be worthy of seeding anyway. After the preseason, we'll see how we do against the good teams and in the league. Then we might have a better idea."

Shoji believes putting in a Thursday-Friday subregional bid last fall played a part in the Wahine's failure to get a top-16 seed because teams have to fly so far so soon after the bracket is announced. This year, the UH-BYU football game originally scheduled Dec. 7 also would have forced another Thursday-Friday bid. With the cancellation, UH can bid for Friday-Saturday (Dec. 6-7).

"One more day gives us a better chance to host," said Shoji, who has brought up the possibility of trying to bid to host at a neutral site, such as Las Vegas. Hawaii has led the country in volleyball attendance since it moved into the Stan Sheriff Center in 1994 and is the only revenue-producing program in the country.

"It makes a lot of sense," he said, "but I'm not sure how the NCAA views that. It's been done before when a host team didn't have a home facility that weekend."

Athletic director Ben Jay has not had a discussion with Shoji dedicated to the subject, so he speaks only in general terms for now.

"I want to make sure that Dave has what he needs," Jay said this week. "We have to work on the committee and what we have to do to raise our profile to make sure things like that don't happen. But we have to make ourselves better in order to host.

"I think everything is do-able, it's a matter of getting the committee to listen to some of those things and see if they are willing to try."

Two teams with an RPI below Hawaii's (No. 17) moved up and two moved down in the final week last November, when UH was idle. The committee seeds the top 16 teams in the NCAA tournament. In 2011, the Pac-12 pushed for a new rule that required seeded teams to get the option of hosting. When his team was not seeded last year and sent away — for the eighth time in nine years —Shoji blew up.

"To tell my team they weren't good enough to be in the top 16 teams is absurd …," he said after the Wahine fell in five to the Huskies. "To disrespect this group of athletes is tragic to me."

Any "disrespect" was probably directed at the Big West Conference. Hawaii was 27-3 last year, and had a 20-match winning streak going into the NCAA tournament. Most of those wins came in their return to the Big West, whose next-best team (Long Beach State) had an RPI of 61. Cal State Northridge (76) and Pacific (88) were the only other top-100 Big West teams.

The NCAA's RPI system is based on opponent strength of schedule (50 percent), winning percentage (25) and "opponents' opponent strength of schedule."

"We just have to be better as a conference," Shoji said. "The conference RPI was so low, that brought us down to where we were one spot out from hosting. I don't think there's any doubt our conference will be better next year. All things being equal, if we have the same kind of scenario as last year we will host. I'm positive our conference will be better."

Hawaii's isolation has kept all things from being equal in the past. In 2004, Hawaii won its first 28 to rise to No. 1 in the coaches Top 25 poll. It was sent to Colorado for a subregional and Green Bay, Wis., for a regional. The team traveled more than 40,000 miles that season.

David McClain, UH's interim president at that time, wrote NCAA president Myles Brand to ask for a review of procedures for deciding postseason site selections, saying "the NCAA's decision to direct us to Ft. Collins defies common sense."

About the only way Hawaii can guarantee itself a seed is to go unbeaten through a preseason that starts Aug. 30 against NCAA champion Texas, and includes UCLA, San Diego, Santa Clara, Arizona and Northwestern. Shoji is in the process of finalizing two road matches against "ranked teams" in September and wants to bring in a Japanese team for exhibitions later in the season. The only match between Oct. 12 and Oct. 24 now is an alumnae exhibition.

Nebraska, which hosted an NCAA Regional last year in Omaha, will host again this year at its renovated Devaney Center in Lincoln. USC, Kentucky and Illinois are the other three regional sites. Florida was initially announced as the fourth site. Washington is hosting the final four, Dec. 19 and 21 at Key Arena in Seattle.

The 2014 regionals are at Washington, Iowa State, Louisville and Minnesota, with the final four in Oklahoma City.

60 Responses to “Shoji asks "What do we have to do?"”

  1. Cubicle1126:

    DF - it's not a 'top 16 RPI rule' ... it's a top 16 seed rule. the top 16 seeds are guaranteed to host, if they choose to. but the top 16 RPI is not guaranteed to be seeded.

  2. wop ur jaws:

    And why should our school have to be undefeated in order to be a top 16 seed? Other schools
    last season had more losses to lesser teams and still got higher seeds. It is because politically and financially UH is lightweight compared to...again BCS schools or other mid major programs. I say someone from Star AD should write about this issue. Start with could UH ever be invited into a BCS conference and take it from there. Interview everyone involved and have a series of stories regarding how UH can compete with the rest of the schools. Hawai'i to me always have to prove themselves to the NCAA where other programs get by because of connections and power in the BCS.

  3. Cubicle1126:

    wop -- it's easy and convenient to point to some BCS conspiracy, but the numbers last year spoke for itself. you don't need a conspiracy theory to see why Hawaii didn't get a seed last year.

    Hawaii was on the bubble for a seed, and didn't give the committee a whole lot of data to clinch the seed outright. Hawaii's record against top 25 RPI teams last year was only 1-1. so they only played 2 teams who were in the top 25 RPI. that, plus the loss to Cal, which was a top 50 RPI team. other teams who rec'd a seed over hawaii had more losses, but also more wins against the RPI top 25. that's where hawaii's schedule hurts them. it didn't give them a high enough RPI to lock in a seed, and it put them at disadvantage when the committee was looking at the 'nitty gritty' of their schedule.

    compare that to 2011. where Hawaii had an RPI firmly in the top 10 (i can't remember the number exactly). they didn't play all that many more top 25 RPI teams that year (i believe they played 3 top 25 RPI teams that year). in any given year, Hawaii doesn't usually play more than 2 or 3 top 25 RPI teams anyway. but in 2011, the difference was that Hawaii had a balance of nonconference teams from different regions of the country on their schedule (like Ohio St, Wichita St, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, plus UCLA, Arizona and Long Beach St). the diverse schedule gave them a very strong RPI, and it took the decision over whether to even seed Hawaii out of the hands of the selection committee.

    the RPI can be gamed, even if you're not in a BCS conference. Hawaii has proven that, b/c they have always been seeded (except for last year). so Shoji for sure knows how to put together an RPI-friendly schedule. they should continue to schedule aggressively, but also smartly. diversify the schedule, and play teams that will boost their RPI, which will allow them to finish with an RPI that's not on the bubble. then the committee has no choice but to seed them.

    hawaii was able to do that all while they were in the weak WAC. i don't see why they can't continue to do that since they've moved to the Big West.

  4. LC:

    SMH - Our Sand team swept by USC 5-0

  5. wop ur jaws:

    Cindy... again for me its not about each season...there has been a dramatic shift with the NCAA and Hawai'i when it comes to post season. I remember back in 1981 as long as I have been around UH when Hawai'i would easily host first and second rounds. Grand today and bak then or even in the 90's have so many variants, I understand that... it's just from one perspective since say 9/11, hosting first and second rounds got harder and harder... and again I know a lot had to do with travel expenses and security... but even after things have loosen, the NCAA has not. I honestly feel, since the popularity of this sports has been embraced by the majority of the BCS and Mid Major conferences whole heartedly, the landscape has changed for mid majors. They (NCAA commitee selection) has the option of spreading the tournament any way they want... if say geography is the issue they use, then that is the main reason why one school will host... or if it's lack of RPI, then they say it's because of that as a reason to not seed a team. and so on... And its their choice to do so. yet, its ironic how in recent years, some BCS schools regardless if they lost its last five matches will still get a number one seed in a region. So to my point about us in a BCS or mid Major conference (like a red hot WCC), our RPI will automatically improve because our in conference opponents will have higher RPI's consistently from season to season. And yes I know the Big West should be better this season if no major injuries take place, but a PAC 12 conference even in a "down" year will still have higher RPI's because of the quality of the programs with the players and coaches.

  6. Cindy Luis:

    LC, see new sand thread.

    WUJ, you cannot compare 81 with today. 81 the first year of NCAA sponsorship and there were no where near the number of teams as there are today. and in the 80s the NCAA kept it very regional tournament 'to grow the game' think of the years that the best two teams were in the PCAA/Big West, the Pacific-Hawaii years when only one of them got out of the regional.
    think the 9-11 excuse is no longer valid. it's been 12 years. It's about money. they have no problem moving men's basketball teams all around the country, never did, but the sport has so much money to do so.
    besides back in the 80s it wasn't a 64 team field. It was 32. then 48.
    It is very unlikely that UH will ever get into a BCS conference so think you need to let that go.
    The inequity of it all is that, as happened last year, some of the mid-majors are a one-bid league. The chances of that 1 team getting even to the final four is minuscule compared to the 7-8 chances for teams from the Big Ten or Pac-12 to make it. so you just perpetuate the flawed system that promotes the 'power' conferences.
    My issue is with the bias toward the SEC which has never had a volleyball champion despite the almost forced effort by the selection committee to make it happen. FSU had a cakewalk a few years ago. They keep bringing the BCS football mentality over to a sport that doesn't deserve it. There was such blatant bias by the selection committee last season to give Kentucky and Tennessee host duties and making Louisville a No. 10 seed.
    Yes, I know, Louisville is Big East. or was.
    What they need is someone on the committee who knows something about volleyball.

  7. wop ur jaws:

    Cindy as I stated, I know the difference between the 80's 90's and today. For the reason you mentioned. My point was, one, if it's about RPI then a "major" conference in theory would provide in-conference competition amonst higher RPI teams. That's how an iowa st. (big 12) and the likes of Northwestern (big 10) has high RPI's. By virtue of its conference they play against Penn St., Texas etc.. So that is a reason why I think Hawai'i would benefit from a "major" conference. Two, back in the beginnings of this colligiate sport, Hawai'i was around when NCAA's didn't even sponsor it. Of course with popularity and interest from more institutions, the NCAA's came in and took over. Title IX really brought women's volleyball to the forefront because it allowed schools to be in compliance as well as provide opportunities for female student athletes. A win win. But with the sport growth, I feel Hawai'i kind of lost it's lead as one of the pioneering schools-if for nothing else, once more schools participated, they were able to entice student athletes that thought about life after playing volleyball. Thus in the late 80's many "prestigious Schools" could get the top picks even from Hawai'i and California. Then when the mid west and mid east started to take serious interest, Illinois, pennsylvania and michigan area student athletes had closer home choices than California and Texas and Florida. Meanwhile Hawai'i was falling behind with the Athletes and techniques they were working with. For example, the quick defensive minded teams were becoming less and less and the rise of huge, tall, quick players came to be along with new schools and its coaching tehniques, game strategies changed the game forever. Now days new training innovative techniques are discussed around the country at coaching seminars when panel coaches teach other coaches its regimine. Hawai'i would have gone to asia to lern new techniques and skills. Today, with the students being exposed to volleyball at an early age all throughout the country, institutions have more competition to land a blue chip player. Hawaii will always have geographical issues, but trying to look at things from a different approach is what I am saying. Doing something different to me is better than doing the same thing over and over. I feel that if given the chance, new AD Jay will no doubt explore other conference alignment.

  8. Cindy Luis:

    You have many valid points. I would like to hear your ideas on doing a different approach. I just don't see UH being invited to a BCS conference. It's about money, of which the athletic department continues to run at a deficit due in part to the myopic legislature. How does one expect a department to break even, let alone make a profit, when you are not allowed to keep revenue it generates. Parking money goes to upper campus, concessions are contract bid, etc.
    as you pointed out, athletes have thought about life after athletics which means the prestige of a degree from a name school. Hawaii is not there academically, at least that is the perception.

  9. wop ur jaws:

    yup i wish i knew..what can be done. I guess I'm searching for ideas from new perspectives. It seems from the things AD Jay has been doing, going to various sports matches and getting input from a variety of sources, he is formulating his road map for UH athletics. If he can get the debt erased, I think he would have a better chance of making bold changes. I know that H is not an easy sell for any BCS conference, but I'm wondering if the athletic landscape and the shifting of schools and/or the possibility of mega conferences or revolt from the BCS system will allow UH to be a aprt of the possible changes. If so, like being an independent in some sports may be an alternative. Or forming a new conference with other like minded schools would make sense. I don't think hosting a mainland tournament helps except as a stop gap season to season. I mean it wouldn't change the NCAA mindset towards UH at least for VB committee members. Maybe UH needs school athletic officials to lobby a spot on the committee someone to fight for UH no just their for their own self promotion.

  10. Purple&Gold:

    I don't like Vegas.

    I lilke them remaining in SoCal if at all possible.

    The Anaheim Convetion Center would be GREAT, but unlikely.

    Pasadena and Ontario have Convention Centers also and probably more likely. Bleachers/seating would be the only other thing for the rental(s).