Friday, May 10, 2013

the latest (and greatest?) dynamic duo

They were dubbed the Dynamic Duo, and that they were. Anthony Carter and Alika Smith established themselves as the most recognizable tandem in the history of University of Hawaii sports. The starting backcourt in 1996-97 and '97-98 led UH to the NIT both years, with wins over Indiana and Kansas highlighting the overall 42-17 ledger.

Carter went on to a long NBA career, and Smith coached his alma mater, Kalaheo High, to a state championship this year.

Now, 15 years after, there's another UH athletic pairing in a different sport putting the finishing touches on careers even more impressive than those of Carter and Smith.

I say more impressive because softball center fielder Kelly Majam and shortstop Jessica Iwata have produced excellence consistently for four seasons, from the time they were freshmen in 2010 and led the Wahine to the College World Series. Carter and Smith combined for just two seasons.

Some will still consider Carter and Smith the better duo because men's basketball is a revenue sport and higher profile than women's softball. Maybe there's room at the very top for both. But I give the Wahine the nod because of their incredible durability despite some serious physical challenges.

MAJAM HAS STARTED in all 225 UH softball games since the beginning of the 2010 season after a knee injury forced her to redshirt in 2009. And 159 of those games came after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer prior to her sophomore season of 2011.

Iwata missed just two games early in her freshman season. She has played in every game since, with a 223 total despite dealing with a painful shoulder injury this year that requires surgery.

During their four years, UH has posted a 171-54 record for a .760 winning percentage.

Both are at the top or near it in numerous career batting statistics, both are over .300 in career batting average and are outstanding defensively. Majam has 72 career homers and Iwata 55. Their regular season concludes with a three-game series at Pacific starting with a doubleheader today.

Other notable duos in UH sports history:

» Pitchers Gerald Ako and Derek Tatsuno intersected for just one season (1977), but the pitchers from Aiea were nearly unhittable.

» Gary Allen and David Toloumu played together four seasons (1978-81) with speed, power and versatility, when running backs were the focal point of the offense.

» Lily Kahumoku (1999-2003) and Kim Willoughby (2000-03) were two of the more talented players in Wahine volleyball history and combined forces for three final four appearances.

» The Timmy Chang (1999-2004) to Chad Owens (2000-04) connection led to all-time passing records for Chang and All-American status for Owens.

» Linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Adam Leonard (2005-08) were the heart of the underrated defense during UH's football glory years. Elimimian finished as the school's career tackles leader.

Reach Dave Reardon at <@Tagline -- email1> or 529-4783 or on Twitter as @dave_reardon.


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