Sunday, December 2, 2012

NCAA | Dave Shoji: the NCAA “disrespected” Hawai’i’s athletes

Legendary coach reacts to tournament committee’s decision not to seed the Rainbow Wahine

For most of the week, Hawai’i coach Dave Shoji stewed in silence.

In his mind—and in the opinion of thousands of Rainbow Wahine fans—Hawai’i should have been one of the 16 teams seeded by the NCAA tournament selection committee. With a seeding, comes the right to host the first two rounds.

Hawai'i's Dave Shoji, coaching his players against Washington
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
Instead—for the second time in three years—a team ranked in the top ten by the nation’s coaches had to travel to Seattle to face Washington (another top ten team) on its home court.

Like any good coach, Shoji told his players to put it out of their minds. Focus on the present, he told them. We can play anywhere.

But after Hawai’i narrowly lost a rip-roaring match and was eliminated from the tournament, the question had to be asked.

After a gracious post-match media Q&A, complementing both his players and the Huskies, Shoji was prodded to give his opinion about the seeding. His reply, in its entirety:

Alright, you asked the question.
I thought it was a shame that Washington and Hawai’i had to play in the second round.
I still would love to have an explanation how we were not seeded. If they tell me it’s financial, and that they didn’t want to send three teams to Hawai’i—that’s the reason we weren’t seeded—I can live with that. I have not heard that.
What they’re gonna tell me is, we didn’t do this and didn’t do that. But, in fact, we probably hit nine of the criteria that they set for seeding.
I think it’s a shame. It’s a disservice to our athletes to be disrespected like that.
There were some pretenders out there in the seeded areas. And they all lost.
It’s just disappointing. Just a disservice to our athletes. I’ve been around, you can do that to me. But to them, and how hard they worked, it was just a shame.

And who were those “pretenders?”

Four seeded teams failed to reach the Sweet 16: #7 UCLA, #9 Florida State, #10 Louisville, and #11 Kansas. It’s a good bet that Shoji was referring to the latter two, though many others thought #16 Kentucky—a team that did advance to the next round—was far less deserving than Hawai’i.

For his part, Washington coach Jim McLaughlin said, “Hawai’i, they’re big-time. They’ve been big time for many years. It’s too bad they didn’t get to host.”

see also: What we learned from Washington's win over Hawai'i


  1. Both teams got ripped off. UW should have never had to play such a quality high ranked team in the 2nd round and UH should have hosted and never had to play a 5th ranked team in the 2nd round.

    UW had to go to 5 games in their match against UH which used way more energy than they needed to expend.

  2. Shoji hit the nail on the head. It is about respect for the game. The NCAA is happy to post on the center-court board several reminders to be good sports and before the match as though the volleyball crowd was a bunch of hooligans. However, during the match, at the break before the third set, all we got on that board was advertising about the BASKETBALL tournament. There were a number of second round matches still in progress, and with a little forethought, the NCAA could have posted results and scores for matches in progress instead of advertisements for basketball. As far as I could tell, the NCAA thinks the Volleyball tournament is just another opportunity to build up March Madness. That is serious disrespect to both teams AND to all the fans who came to watch some great volleyball. I hope the players didn't have to experience these ads. The NCAA should understand that world does not revolve around basketball even if that's all that they care about. And of course Hawai'i should have been given a better seed. The reliance on the RPI is a continuing puzzle. Al Skates pointed this out prior to the tournament during a Pac 12 match: some of the top RPI rated teams had NO victories over any other team in the top 25. Go figure. Bob S

    1. Most people do not know that BYU-Hawaii just hosted the NCAA DII West regional and had to fly 7 teams in from the West coast to compete and yet the NCAA couldn't send 3 teams to Hawaii, which probably would have had at least 8,000 people at each match, seeing as though Hawaii has led the nation in attendance the last 10 years or so.

      I can guarantee that Coach Jim M was pleased that they got to host but also not real happy that they had to play Hawaii in the 2nd round. He would have been a happy camper if they lost.
      If that scenario happened in Men's DI NCAA basketball, it would be headlines.

  3. While I agree with Coach Shoji, it seems that many west coast teams deal with this every year. UW should have been seeded last year when Hawaii was seeded and got to play at home. It's just the way it goes sometimes.

    I do wish they would scrap the RPI (it doesn't work for finding the best teams and seems to be weighted to ensure diversity for team off the west coast) and simply use the coaches poll for seeding. The coaches have a much better idea of the teams that deserve seeding priority.


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