Sports Notebook

Thursday, April 19, 2001

Ferguson brings his
expertise to BYUH

By Brandon Lee

WATER POLO COACH Aukai Ferguson has a history of starting successful programs. Now, he hopes to continue the trend as the first coach of the Brigham Young-Hawaii men's team.

Ferguson was named the leader of Seasiders' water polo program last Thursday.

In February, BYUH announced it would be adding the sport in the fall to compensate for dropping men's soccer from its roster of NCAA Division II sports.

Ferguson began his head-coaching career at his alma mater, Kahuku High, in 1994. He founded the Red Raiders' water polo program and helped initiate the Oahu public high school league. During his tenure at Kahuku, from 1994-99, Ferguson led the boys to five straight undefeated campaigns while also guiding the girls to two.

Since leaving Kahuku, Ferguson has, among other successful water polo coaching endeavors, started the Tualatin Hills Water Polo Club in Oregon.

Tualatin is considered one of the top clubs in the nation, and Ferguson will continue to coach the club and reside in Oregon until he returns to Hawaii to assume his post with the Seasiders on Aug. 10.

In the meantime, Ferguson will continue to actively recruit players and competition for BYUH. He said he has about 15 players -- some former high school All-Americans -- interested in joining the program, though none have signed yet.

According to Ferguson, the Seasiders will likely be granted membership to the Western Water Polo Association, an umbrella organization of teams (primarily from Southern California) whose schools belong to various leagues but compete under the WWPA for water polo. Chaminade, the only other collegiate men's program in the state, is already a member of the WWPA.

Ferguson said BYUH will probably have to travel to Southern California for all of its games, besides those scheduled against Chaminade, for the next two seasons. The Seasiders have a small on-campus pool for practice, but will likely rent a more suitable facility with the Silverswords for their games. The two schools are looking at playing five times a year, with some type of award for whoever wins the series.

"The potential for a top-level rivalry like what BYUH has with (Hawaii Pacific) in other sports is there," said Ferguson of the future battles with Chaminade for local water polo bragging rights.

As for where the Seasiders will eventually fit in the national water polo picture, Ferguson hopes to pick up a big win or two this season against the WWPA's average to above-average teams to provide the program with some positive momentum. Beyond that, he hopes to eventually contend with the likes of a UC San Diego and Loyola Marymount, who are the very best in the association.

"I'd like to see us be competitive with the top teams," Ferguson said. "I think a five- to six-year window is perfect (to reach that point)."

On the diamond: HPU (31-13, 16-6 Pacific West) clinched a tie for its third consecutive PacWest Pacific Division title and the automatic bid to the conference tournament with its win Saturday. University of Hawaii-Hilo (25-17, 12-8) can tie for the division title, but HPU gets the automatic berth by virtue of winning five of eight from Hilo this year.

Sunday it's the baseball teams' turn to tangle as Hilo (5-29) hosts HPU (18-24) in a nonconference doubleheader at noon at Wong Stadium.

Recruiting: After experiencing its first winning campaign in fourteen years this past season, Chaminade's basketball team is looking to reload its arsenal of talented players.

Just over a week has passed since the start of the national letter of intent signing period, and the Silverswords have secured three recruits: 6-7 post Mike Donegan and 6-4 swingman Rashaw McAfee -- starters who averaged 13 points last season for a Saddleback Community College (Calif.) team that went 33-3 -- and 5-9 point guard Jamar Holloway of Chabot Community College (Calif.), who averaged 16 points and five assists last season.

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