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Gary’s Blog: Memories of Aloha

By Gary Dickman.

It felt good to write about the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team actually playing a game. And now I get to do it again. This past Saturday, the Bows beat UH Hilo, 86-69. There were similarities in this game and the season opener last week vs HPU. The halftime and final scores were fairly close in both games, and the way Hawaii opened the second halves of both games, pulling away with leads of more than 20 for most of the last 15 minutes.

I am trying to get a feel for this team, but it’s been hard to sense their identity. I doubt if the players and coaches know yet, either. With so many new players, there’s a lot I’m still curious about. I was impressed with freshman guard Biwali Bayles, who started and seemed to share the point guard position with Noel Coleman. Bayles had 6 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals. He also fouled out in 28 minutes, which I kind of liked. It showed he was aggressive, and wasn’t intimidated playing D-1 ball. I like his overall game, and he’ll help this team this year. The new player I’ve been impressed with the most is James Jean-Marie. JJ had a double-double in the first game, but he had a quiet first half vs Hilo with one point. I saw that nine minutes into the second half, Jean-Marie now had 11 points. For some reason, he reminds me a little of former Bow Vincent Smalls. Both played smart and hard and do/ did little things to be successful. I can’t wait to see how much he improves over Big West play.

Speaking of the Big West, the season will start soon with Hawaii will hosting Cal Poly on Sunday and Monday the 27th and 28th. I have seen that three Big West schools are in quarantine this week and will not start conference play  this Sunday. The three are Long Beach State, UC Davis, and UC Riverside. I’ll feel better about Hawaii starting in time when I hear that Cal Poly has arrived here in Honolulu and have enough players that can play. I hate thinking this, but I think it’s going to be hard for UH to play these 20 conference games as scheduled. It’s based more on the California schools we play and their surrounding areas. Let’s hope for the best, and enjoy the ride these next two months of Rainbow Warrior basketball.

Like everyone else, I was surprised and caught off guard on the announcement that Aloha Stadium was closing. They said it’s indefinite, but most people think it’s permanent. For several reasons it makes sense to not play at the stadium, one of which it’d be a bit of a waste to spend $45-50 million for two years of maintenance and repairs, when a new stadium is expected to open in 2023. I know, that’s kind of funny, it could be years later. But instead of going on about the end of an era, I started thinking about my favorite memories there, both for UH Football and concerts.

If I had to choose only one football game, it’s the game vs Washington on December 1st, 2007. This win cemented the 12-0 season, and maybe more importantly, made me realize I get to go on a work trip to a big city in a BCS bowl. I was hoping it’d be in New Orleans, and that part worked out well. But that game had so much drama because of the importance of the game, and you’ll remember that Hawaii trailed, 21-0, after one quarter. I was a little depressed, thinking this free work trip wasn’t going to happen. What did happen is that Colt Brennan was Colt again, and with the defense bucking down, UH won by outscoring UW, 35-7 in the final three quarters. But it took the biggest INT in UHs history, with Ryan Mouton intercepting a Jake Locker pass by the end zone. And then the stands rushed the field for the second week in a row. I never thought I’d see a scene like that at Aloha Stadium. And I’ll never forget it. Ever.

For concerts, I’ve seen a lot of great concerts there. It’s kind of ironic though, that the first and last concerts I saw there is the same group. This was over a 38-year span. In 1980, living in Maui, I flew to Oahu to see the Eagles here. I also saw them around 98 or 99. And the last concert I saw at Aloha Stadium were the Eagles on December 7th, 2018. Pretty amazing when you think of it, and they sounded pretty much the same at all the concerts. Bruno Mars was the next to last show for me. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. He really puts on an amazing show, in other ways besides his singing. I saw U2 there, another classic night. Mariah Carey gave me a rose at her show there. I know some of you don’t believe me, but if I’m gonna make something up, it’d be better than that, right? I happened to be standing near the stage, and for her last song, “Hero,” she walked up to the barriers separating the fans from her. Most fans around me rushed to get near the center area where she started handing out roses. I didn’t want to be in that big crowd, so I walked up to the barrier over to the right, where almost no one else was. Mariah then walked the barriers towards me, stopped once or twice handing out a rose, then she got to me and handed me a rose. I could describe what I thought as she handed me the rose, but I don’t think I want to embarrass myself anymore than I already have with this story. So, sorry. In closing, The Rolling Stones were great as well, especially 2 nights in a row in the late 90s.

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