Hawaii will haka dance at Madness event

First-year Hawaii coach Gib Arnold brought in so many new players that the team will be largely unrecognizable when it is introduced at the school's Madness event.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the team will try to make a good first impression Friday evening by doing the haka -- a traditional dance that Hawaii football players have performed to fire themselves up for games.

The haka idea came about when Arnold saw the dance group of Mana Gauthier practicing on campus. The new coach talked to the former UH golfer about working the team through some lessons.

But can it be anywhere close to the quality of the UH football team's version?

"It's so completely opposite of my element, but I definitely enjoyed working on it, and I hope the fans enjoy it," said junior point guard Anthony Salter, a Tallahassee, Fla., native and one of 10 newcomers to Hawaii. "I don't want to offend anybody if we don't do it well enough. I know that's big to the culture and things like that. I'ma go out there, give it my best shot, get the dances down perfectly so I make a good impression."

The haka has been known to intimidate opponents, which is more than a team that last season went 3-13 for a last-place finish in the WAC can say.

Perhaps then the group dance will be a symbolic way of ushering in a new era with Arnold, the former USC assistant who wants to rebuild the program by primarily recruiting players internationally and from Southern California.

Among the players Arnold has added to the roster are centers in Vander Joaquim, a junior college transfer from Angola, and Davis Rozitis, a Latvian who will sit out the season after transferring from USC. Other recruits come from all across the United States.

It's this motley crew that will chant and posture while doing the haka, hoping a display of togetherness will translate on the court as well.