Blood games at UH
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Throw 100 football players three basketballs. Tell them there are no rules.
Something had to give yesterday at Klum Gym.
Near the end of the Hawaii football team's final Super Games event a scuffle broke out between players trying to gain control of the ball. In an earlier game, running back David Farmer left to get treatment for a bloody head.
Greg McMackin later said Farmer is fine.
"It looked worse than it was," the coach said. "It gives them all something to talk about. That's how it is because they're competitive."
The games were more physical than some UH practices.
"Basketball's dangerous," senior defensive lineman Keala Watson said. "I feel safer playing football. But it was all fun. It might look violent to a bystander, but it's all fun. No rules just puts that extra twist on the game."
In the end, the Gladiators, drafted and captained by Watson, won the championship game. It gave them the overall championship, too, when combined with firsts in earlier weeks in tug of war and water polo and several second and third places.
The Super Games were designed to give the players a break from the drudgery of offseason conditioning. McMackin had 10 seniors draft teams. In addition to the weekly sports competitions, they were judged for accountability in the classroom and in team activities such as meetings.
"The last two weeks there's been great improvement in accountability," said defensive line coach Dave Aranda, who kept score. "No one wanted to let their teammates down."
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii quarterback Tyler Graunke, left, who was reinstated to the Warriors on Tuesday after a suspension for breaking team rules, drove against linebacker R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane yesterday in no-rules basketball, a part of the UH's Super Games.
The latest former basketball player for the Hawaii football team got to return to the court yesterday.
You could tell that Les Soloai -- a former Brigham Young-Hawaii hoopster -- felt right at home as he helped the Gladiators win the championship of UH's offseason intra-team Super Games competition.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Australian took a no-look, cross-court pass from 6-4, 290-pound point guard/defensive tackle Chris Leatigaga in full stride while cutting to the basket and converted the layup. The Gladiators rode the momentum to the win.
"That wasn't planned, just running around and I found myself open," Soloai said.
Neither was playing college football. Soloai has never played the American version of the game. He's a former rugby player.
"The plays and the techniques are very different," Soloai said. "I'm just getting used to everything."
Soloai has been working out with the defensive linemen, with extra tutoring from senior Keala Watson.
But there's talk about Soloai switching to offensive tackle.
Watson doesn't want to let him go.
"The first day he came they tried to take him for the O-line, but I told Coach (Dave) Aranda his feet are too good to play O-line. He has all the tools necessary to play D-line," Watson said. "He's light years ahead of where he was. When he came in he had no idea what football was. He didn't know O-line from D-line, he just jumped in."
Aranda, the UH defensive line coach, said Soloai is an intriguing prospect.
"He's very impressive in the weight room in terms of his work ethic," Aranda said. "He puts his nose to the grindstone and does everything you ask. Les has skyrocketed from a guy nobody knew to someone everybody's excited about."
Coach Greg McMackin said he doesn't know when and if Soloai will be ready to play football. But he also sees great potential in the soft-spoken freshman.
"He's an excellent athlete, but he never played football before. He's like Ikaika, he could be that kind of guy," McMackin said, comparing Soloai to former UH and current Detroit Lions defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis. Alama-Francis is also a former college basketball player.