Sports Notebook


Hobbled Warriors
expected to play

The Hawaii football team practiced yesterday at Aldine High School in Houston in preparation for tomorrow's game at Louisiana Tech.

Several banged-up Warriors starters and key reserves have been practicing effectively and are expected to play, including defensive tackles Isaac Sopoaga (knee) and Lui Fuga (knee) and wide receiver Jeremiah Cockheran (ankle).

Fuga will likely start in Sopoaga's place for the third straight game. Cockheran probably won't start, but may see playing time; coach June Jones said earlier in the week it would be a game-day decision.

"Without Jeremiah in there we don't stretch it vertically as much," Jones said of his top deep threat.

Defensive end Nkeruwem "Tony" Akpan ended up not making the trip. Instead, Akpan tried to find a way to get to Nigeria for his father's funeral service today. But paperwork hangups prevented that from happening.

Akpan was replaced on the travel squad by wide receiver Daniel Inferrera.

Back in action: Two weeks on the sidelines left Keani Alapa lean and hungry heading into last Saturday's game against Fresno State.

After being slowed by a quadriceps injury, the senior linebacker returned to action against the Bulldogs and recorded eight tackles, seven solo and one for a loss, in Hawaii's 55-28 win.

He contributed to the Warriors' second-quarter feeding frenzy by forcing a fumble while sacking Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar. Fuga recovered the fumble and the Warriors scored two plays later to take a 31-14 lead.

"I hated just watching the team play," Alapa said of his time on the injured list. "It took a couple of snaps, but as the game went on I got more comfortable. This week I definitely feel more comfortable than last week."

Alapa said he played with a brace on his leg last week, and the injury continues to improve.

While Alapa played a significant role in containing Fresno State's running game, the UH defense will have to switch gears quickly as the Warriors prepare for a Louisiana Tech team that throws the ball nearly as much as the UH offense.

"They're a big-time passing team, and we're going to have to change it up, because Fresno liked to run," Alapa said. "It's an adjustment, but we get good practice against our offense, they're very similar."

Scobee snacks: Quarterback Luke McCown gets a lot of the attention when people talk about Louisiana Tech football. But senior kicker Josh Scobee is another record-setting Bulldog.

Scobee and punter Dustin Upton have started 42 games.

Scobee has a good chance to end his career as LaTech's all-time field goals and extra points leader; he is six field goals behind Matt Stover (64), his mentor who kicks for the Baltimore Ravens.

Scobee is already the Bulldogs' career-leader in kick scoring with 301 points. He is 41 points behind Troy Edwards for the overall scoring mark.

Short yardage: Fittingly, two quarterbacks will call tomorrow's action for ESPN Regional. They are Mark Malone and Kelly Stouffer. ... The teams' only common opponent so far is Fresno State. LaTech lost at FSU, 16-6, on Sept. 20, while the Warriors beat Fresno State at home last Saturday, 55-28.


Goo asking for
1-year deal

DALLAS >> A good coach keeps his options open. That's why Hawaii women's basketball coach Vince Goo is asking for a one-year contract.

It doesn't necessarily mean he's planning to retire or look at other coaching jobs after this season. But the former is a strong possibility -- you can tell by the gleam in Goo's eye whenever he's asked about a future of playing golf whenever he likes.

Goo, 56, is going into his 17th season at the helm of the Rainbow Wahine. He is the program's winningest coach at 326-146 for a .691 winning percentage.

"I think Herman (Frazier, athletic director) and I are going to talk about (the new contract) soon," Goo said yesterday at the Western Athletic Conference basketball media preview. "I asked in July for a one-year contract. I think that's the way to go.

"Sometimes you see coaches with multi-year contracts and they get fired and the school's got to buy him out, or the coach wants to leave before his contract's over and the school's left holding the bag. I don't think that's fair," Goo added. "I just think whatever contract I have I should honor it, and right now one year at a time is perfect for me."

And while it's never the perfect time to leave, the one-year contract is a way of being up-front with recruits that the program's leadership could be in transition.

"A lot of coaches ask our assistants when they're on the road. It doesn't matter that much (in recruiting)," Goo said. "We have only one senior and one scholarship to give for next year," he said.

Goo welcomes a freshman class of seven players, and he plans to play them all in an up-tempo platoon system.

Surprise, surprise: OK, everybody knows Louisiana Tech is the prohibitive favorite to win the WAC women's basketball championship.

What about after the Lady Techsters?

Goo said the race is wide open for second place.

"After LaTech I think it will come down to whoever stays healthy," he said. "I think Rice and SMU are going to be very good. And no way Tulsa is seventh (as voted by the coaches)."

Goo said the Lady Techsters set a standard for the rest of the league.

"That's a yardstick. You go out and recruit to play against people like LaTech. Their talent, their speed, their offensive, defensive abilities. You need to get a Cheryl Ford to play against them. Everyone needs to up their level, especially recruiting."

Kurt Budke led LaTech to a 31-3 record, including 18-0 in the WAC, in his first season as head coach last year.

"We feel like we're maybe everybody's big game on the schedule, and if we lose one or two it's almost looked upon as failure," Budke said. "We do like to go into gyms where its maybe their best crowd of the year and our girls seem to thrive on that and enjoy going on the road."

Back in the pack?: Unlike the women's side, prognosticators forecast a changing of the guard as to who will win the men's league championship.

Both media and coaches picked Nevada to capture its first WAC title. And the coaches picked traditional league powers Hawaii, Fresno State and Tulsa to slip to third, fourth and fifth in the conference.

"That's good we don't have to wear the bull's-eye. Maybe we can sneak up on some people," said Tulsa guard Jason Parker, the team's only senior. "It's hard going to all these places with people aiming at you all the time."

Forward Jarius Glenn is also a returning starter, but Tulsa loses plenty of talent and experience with forward Kevin Johnson and guard Dante Swanson completing their Golden Hurricane careers.

Tulsa has five freshmen and five sophomores on its roster.

"We're young, but we're definitely going to be one of the best teams in the league and in the country," Parker said. "The ingredients are there."

Ranking the road: The WAC is one of the toughest conferences in which to play away from home. Rice forward Michael Harris was asked to rate the league's toughest venues. He went with Hawaii, Tulsa, Southern Methodist and Fresno State.

"I think the crowd plays a big factor in the home-court advantage," Harris said. "Hawaii is pretty tough because of the atmosphere and the fan support. Tulsa, too, tough atmosphere."

He said Rice is beginning to become a harder place for opponents, and not just because of the Owls' improved talent level.

Miner connection: Texas-El Paso sophomore forward John Tofi is looking forward to the Miners' Jan. 22 game at Hawaii -- and not just because he scored a team-high 20 points in UTEP's 77-63 loss at the Sheriff Center. Tofi, who is of pure Samoan ancestry, had 75 friends and relatives at the game.

"Hawaii recruited me a little bit," said Tofi, who was rated as one of the 300 top high school players in the nation two years ago. "But I knew if I went there I'd never go to school. It would be hard to focus. I know too many people on Oahu."

Fresh start: Fresno State has put the academic scandal that broke last year behind it, but second-year Bulldogs coach Ray Lopes still has a hard time dealing with the fact that his team -- whose staff and players didn't have anything to do with the cheating from years before that brought about self-imposed sanctions -- sat out the postseason despite winning the WAC championship.

"It was very difficult. It was my first year as a head coach, but I never experienced anything tougher to do in my 16 years in the profession," Lopes said. "To tell them they weren't eligible for postseason after they earned it through all that hard work."

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