By Cindy Luis
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.