Open Shots

By Dave Reardon

Friday, February 7, 1997


Why can’t Rainbows
sell out the joint?

HERE are some of the reasons why the Special Events Arena didn't sell out for the University of Hawaii's basketball game against Nevada-Las Vegas last night (although it should have):

The suspension of three reserve players earlier in the week.

Nil marketing efforts by the athletic department. When you've got a special product, you need to go out of your way to promote it.

The only televised game on the recently-completed road trip was Hawaii's one defeat.

Competition for the UH sports fan dollar; men's volleyball played Wednesday night and again tonight.

The Rainbows were coming off a loss.

While we're on this subject, if you have tickets and can't use them for tomorrow's game against Air Force, at least try to find someone who can -- 1,118 no-shows is an embarrassment.

DIAMOND STUDS:

The focus this week has been on football letters of intent, and the fact that although the top local players are getting better and better, they're not sticking around.

The same thing is happening in baseball, as the most talented crop in recent memory packs for Mainland colleges or goes pro.

When Pal Eldredge talks about a five-tool guy, he's not referring to the plumber, or Tim Allen in "Home Improvement."

He's talking about baseball players who can do it all: hit for average, hit for power, throw, field and run. The kind of guys he gives high marks to in his duties as a pro baseball scout.

And this year's high school senior class has pro and college prospects aplenty.

"In the years I've been involved (since 1972), I've never seen anything as good as this as far as college Division I recruiting prospects," said the longtime Punahou coach.

"Off the top of my head, I can see 10 guys who are (college) prospects off of just three ILH teams: Iolani, Kamehameha and Punahou. And there are three who are bonafide pro prospects: Justin Wayne, Dane Sardinha and Scooter Martines."

Eldredge said he rates the Class of '97 ahead of even that of 1981, which included future major leaguers Joey Meyer and Sid Fernandez.

Sardinha has been touted as a possible first-round pick in the next major league draft, and has been courted by several college powers, including Miami.

"His arm is a package deal," Eldredge said of the catcher from Kamehameha. "I've seen guys with stronger arms, (Keith) Komeiji had a stronger arm. But nobody with as quick a release and as much accuracy. The package makes him a once in a generation kind of guy."

Iolani's Keoni DeRenne, a switch-hitting shortstop, is another gem. He joins Sardinha among the top 50 high school prospects in the nation as chosen by Baseball America. DeRenne has committed to the University of Arizona.

ALOHA AL

Our sports community suffered a great loss when Al Austin, 54, collapsed and died while officiating a basketball game two weeks ago.

Austin, who also was active as a softball and baseball coach, was vice president of the Hawaii Football Officials Association, which handles Interscholastic League of Honolulu games.

"Al was one of our best officials," said Hardy Spoehr, president of the HFOA. "It's a real loss to football and basketball officiating. His positive demeanor and who he was will be sadly missed."

Said Jeff Pedro, an officiating colleague: "He was a real professional on the field, yet he was fair to the kids and understood them. Al was one of those rare guys who could do things by the book and still have perspective and a sense of humor."

Services were held earlier this week.

Dave Reardon is a magazine editor and freelance
writer who has covered Hawaii sports since 1977.
He can be reached via the Star-Bulletin or
by email at reardon@aloha.com.




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