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BYUH's fans are unequaled on the island


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POSTED: Saturday, March 14, 2009

“;JET, JET ... JET, JET.”;

The chant is for Tsung-Hsien “;Jet”; Chang, trying to make some big free throws. Two more and Brigham Young-Hawaii has a chance for 100 points. And 100 points means free ice cream for all.

Alas, despite Chang's perfect tosses, BYUH comes up short in its 98-84 regional win over humbled Humboldt State. But not for lack of effort from an army of red sitting, standing and shouting behind me at the Cannon Activities Center.

Oh, so that's what a student section's supposed to do.

Show up in large numbers, in your school color (yes, one color, not a different one every game based on official directives) and make plenty of noise. Draw every ounce of defensive effort from your schoolmates, give them much loud love with every little success, make fun of the other team every chance you get. Even do some of it in unison.

I'd heard such a thing exists, was even part of one such group a couple of decades ago and a few thousand miles away.

But this was right here in Hawaii. Last night, on the otherwise sleepy North Shore. And I choose to believe the Cannon Cuckoos had something to do with the positive outcome.

Of course, the Brigham Young-Hawaii students are all inebriated ... they're drunk on their Seasiders, and rightfully so. Theirs is the best basketball team in the state, by far - 23 wins in a row, just one loss all year. They're still playing in mid-March. No one else here is.

I've seen them, so now I can say it with conviction.

They are very good, and very entertaining.

As for that student support, chicken and the egg, you say? Other schools would develop such a following with success? I don't know about that - at The Big State School in Town the students voted down an activities fee that would support sports. And this is no commuter school, the students are somewhat of a captive audience.

Happy captives.

The halftime routines kind of reminded me of the dancing in “;Napoleon Dynamite.”; But that's OK, I loved that movie. And I love this team.

Its players come from the mainland and one each from Fiji, Canada, Brazil, St. Vincent, Taiwan and Molokai. Virgil Buensuceso is one of three from California; he's a 5-foot-9 point guard with quickness surpassed only by judgment. You think maybe he's a little out of control, then you see his halftime stats: five assists, no turnovers.

They all play with the same frenetic energy, so hungry for rebounds they often collide. On one play, three Seasiders crashed into each other, one ending up in the second row.

Like most D-II teams, their style is up-tempo and makes everyone forget the shot clock even exists.

Lucas Alves, the frontman of this unlikely outfit of rock stars, has a subpar first half. But it includes a 4-point play and plenty of above-the-rim showmanship.

The students juice them up all week.

“;You walk around campus, and everyone's excited about it,”; Buensuceso says.

They'll have to get better at their 3-point defense. Somewhere along the line they'll run up against a squad that can really hurt them from behind the arc. So it's not a perfect team, and we'll learn if it's a truly great one. But it doesn't take long to realize it's a special group.

The student section clued me into that pretty quickly.

“;Sorry we didn't get you the ice cream,”; says Beau Boice, a face-painted sophomore from Atlanta. “;You heard, we tried.”;

That's OK. There's tonight. And the best chant of all comes with 20 seconds left and a 12-point lead:

“;DRIVE HOME SAFELY. (CLAP, CLAP). DRIVE HOME SAFELY.”;

 


Reach Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)