Warriors living
in closer quarters

At least one confrontation ranging somewhere between minor scuffle and major beat-down will likely occur.

It's almost inevitable when you put 105 physically strong, confident young men together in a stressful, confined environment for weeks at a time, with some of them just getting to know each other.

Fights have been relatively few over the years at University of Hawaii football training camps. But they do happen, just as they do at every other football-playing school.

The Warriors reported yesterday, and the 2004 team spent its first night together. The first practice was scheduled for today, 3 to 5 p.m. at the school's grass field.

"You're always going to have at least one spoiled apple," UH senior defensive tackle Lui Fuga said. "There will always be one new guy who already thinks he's a superstar, and tries to act like it. And someone will always break the rules."

For an added twist, the players are not in their usual two-to-a-room dormitory situation for the first week of camp this year. Gateway Hall, where they usually dorm in early August, is being renovated. So the players are bunking together en masse on mattresses on the floors of the UH dance studios.

Fuga and senior cornerback Abraham Elimimian said the upperclassmen do their best to welcome incoming freshmen and transfers, but there is always tension early in camp, regardless of living arrangements.

"Sometimes it can be like a little kid in a car on a long trip acting up," Elimimian said. "The first couple days someone might try to show off and establish position, but as it goes along they get tired and it doesn't happen anymore."

The players are supervised by the coaching staff, and head coach June Jones said veterans who know his expectations for conduct set a good example.

Jones said the barracks-like situation won't adversely affect his team.

"That's not abnormal. We slept under the swimming pool in 1973 (when he was a UH player)," Jones said. "It's been done before. I know Dick Tomey slept in there, so we will too.

"It always comes down to how you come together as a team and this will probably make us closer. The difference between winning and losing is those intangible things that you can't put a finger on. If we come together chemistry-wise those things really come through when the game's on the line."

There might be less tension, since newcomers have gotten to know their teammates through arriving early and participating in unofficial summer workouts. Jones said nearly the entire team spent most of the offseason here.

"Five years ago I'd look out the window, and (former quarterback) Dan Robinson was throwing to Dawn Kaneshiro, our manager, and that was the only person I could find in 1999 this time of year," Jones said. "Now we've got probably a hundred guys here. So that's very positive."

Yesterday was rather mundane as players checked in, filled out paperwork and underwent physicals. Freshmen and veterans had separate meetings regarding NCAA rules, including a movie about avoiding drugs, gambling and other potential problems.

"I pretty much know what to expect," Elimimian said yesterday. "It's kind of boring after seeing it so many times, but I know it's important."

He's not bothered by the living arrangements.

"I hope it makes us even closer. The good thing about it is it's everyone together. It might get tense, but once we start two-a-days, everyone's just going to want to sleep," he said.

Fuga laughed when it was suggested he might be the unofficial sheriff of the dance studios.

"Yeah," he said. "And I've got some good deputies. Abe, Uriah (Moenoa) and Matt (Faga)."



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