Wednesday, December 1, 1999
Heading into the 1999-2000 season, two questions required answering if the Hawaii Wahine were to have success and live up to the preseason selection by the Western Athletic Conference coaches that they would win the league title.
WAHINE BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK
No problems at post, point
They needed to develop a post player who would contribute at both ends of the court and have someone step up and claim the point guard position.
The first question has two answers, 6-foot-4 junior college transfer Dainora Puida and 6-5 freshman Christen Roper. In last week's Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic, Puida scored a team-high 19 points against Washington and Roper had a team high 11 rebounds against Virginia Commonwealth. They share the position and likely will all season.
There is a clear-cut answer to the second question as Kyla Evers has convinced the coaches she is the point guard. Even when the Wahine held double-digit leads over Texas in Sunday's championship game and Evers might have deserved a couple minutes rest on the bench, she got none. Evers joined Kylie Galloway and Raylene Howard as 40-minute performers.
That's a compliment to all three, but especially to Evers, who is playing the position for the first time since high school.
In the semifinal game against Washington, Evers had one assist and five turnovers as the Huskies applied pressure throughout. She expected more of the same from Texas.
"I thought there would be more pressure, but there really wasn't," Evers said. "I thought it was a big chance to do something for the team. I tried my hardest to not turn the ball over."
Against the Longhorns, she had 11 assists and one turnover.
Evers showed improvement in several categories during the three games this past weekend over the season-opening, three-game tournament. She improved her scoring to 29 points from 23, grabbed more rebounds (14 from 11), had more assists (20 from six) and had more steals (eight from six).
Smart coachingIn the final two minutes of the Texas game, 5-11 redshirt sophomore Karena Greeny came off the bench several times to replace 6-4 Dainora Puida. Greeny, in her third season for the Wahine, knows how UH goes about breaking the press better and adds other dimensions.
"On the offensive end, we could run a few more things because Karena handles the ball better on the wings than our post players," UH head coach Vince Goo said. "Then, on defense, we wanted some height in there."
Perfect so farKylie Galloway will tell you she's not quite back to where she was when she last played competitively 18 months ago, but her free-throw shooting shows no rust. Galloway has made all 22 attempts this season. The Wahine record for consecutive free throws is 31 by Lynette Liu (1984-85).
What's nextRaylene Howard moved into third place on the Wahine all-time scoring list last weekend and now has 1,392 points. Second place is held by Nani Cockett (1,866 points). Howard, who needs 475 more points to pass Cockett, has a chance if the Wahine do well in postseason play. To move into second place during the regular season would require Howard averaging 23.8 points per game. That's not impossible, but unlikely since the Wahine have shown a more balanced offense to date.
Someone took noticeHawaii's victories over Pac 10 Conference member Washington and Big 12 Conference power Texas were noted by the pollsters this week. The Wahine received votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll (3 votes) and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 poll (4 votes).
Sweet victoryIn eight years as an assistant coach at Southern Methodist, Hawaii assistant Jon Newlee coached against Texas many times.
"They have a class program, a great team, they have it all," Newlee said. "It's the first time I've beaten Texas since 1994 down at their place and it's always a sweet thing."
By Al Chase, Star-Bulletin