Friday, January 5, 2001
Wahines PuidaThe 2000-01 season has been one of steady progress for Dainora Puida after a tough introduction to Wahine basketball a year ago.
After surgery and summer
rehab, the 6-foot-4 senior center
has become a consistent
contributor for UH
By Al Chase
Off-season ACL surgery on her right knee corrected a physical and emotional problem.
She disliked playing with a knee brace her junior year, then approached surgery with much apprehension.
"I don't know why I was scared to have surgery. I just realized I had to if I'm going to play. I'm glad I did. I feel great," Puida said.
Three hours of daily rehab during the summer under the guidance of trainers Jayson Goo and Tara Humphreys paid off.
"When practice started, I felt 100 percent. It was no problem," Puida said.
Who: Hawaii (9-2) vs. TCU(8-4)
What: WAC women's basketball
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
When: Today, 7 p.m.
RealAudio: 'Net broadcast Click Here
Also, being a member of the University of Hawaii women's program for a year has done wonders for her understanding of what is expected on offense and defense.
Puida transferred to UH from Weatherford College (Texas).
"Everything was so new to her coming where she came from, a very nonstructured environment to a structured offense and defense," UH assistant coach Jon Newlee said.
"It was definitely night and day. Couple that with the language barrier, so to speak, and it was a little too much for her to handle."
"At Weatherford, we had three or four plays. I didn't think there would be so much new stuff last year," said Puida, a 6-foot-4 senior center from Siauliai, Lithuania.
"It's much easier this year. I know what to expect. I just feel much more comfortable on the court. I know my teammates better and what coach wants."
Puida earned her first all-tournament selection with a strong performance in the Ala Moana Hotel Paradise Classic.
She was 14-of-23 from the field, hit all four 3-point attempts, sank 8-of-10 free throws and pulled down 26 rebounds in 76 minutes.
"It definitely was her best string of three games," said Hawaii head coach Vince Goo.
"I think it's a fact she knows the system much better this year and she knows what we expect out of her," said Newlee, who coaches the post players.
Puida had career highs for points (21) and 3-point field goals made against Detroit-Mercy in the tournament opener.
Although happy with her play this season, Puida wants to continue improving her inside game and to eliminate mistakes.
She receives advice from her husband, Nerijus, a senior on the UH men's team.
"When I have a bad day, I don't want to see him after the game. I know he's going to tell me about all my mistakes," Puida said.
"He helps me at the same time, but after a bad game I just want to forget that game and look for the next game."
When the Rainbow men play, the Puida family post-game evaluation works in reverse.
But is Dainora as hard on Nerijus as Nerijus is on Dainora?
"I try to be. But we're not fighting," she said.
Puida leads the team in rebounds, averaging 7.9 per game, almost double her output of a year ago. She connects on a respectable 47 percent of her field goal attempts and tops the starters at the free-throw line, sinking 37-of-45 (.822).
Her consistency, combined with the improving contributions of backup center Christen Roper, give the Wahine a formidable presence at post, something that's been missed for several years.
The duo have combined to block 44 shots, and they add 15 points a game to the offense.
Puida is majoring in liberal studies with an emphasis on physical education and sports. She graduates in one more year, and she wants to be a basketball coach.
Conference Overall Team W L Pct. W L Pct. Texas-El Paso 1 0 1.000 5 7 .417 Hawaii 0 0 .000 9 2 .818 Rice 0 0 .000 8 4 .667 Texas Christian 0 0 .000 8 4 .667 Nevada 0 0 .000 7 5 .583 So. Methodist 0 0 .000 5 6 .455 Fresno State 0 0 .000 4 8 .333 Tulsa 0 0 .000 3 7 .300 San Jose State 0 1 .000 8 4 .667
Texas-El Paso 69, San Jose State 66
Oral Roberts 63, Tulsa 41
Texas Christian at Hawaii, 7 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center
Rice at Fresno State
Southern Methodist at San Jose State
Texas-El Paso at Nevada
Tulsa at Arkansas
So. Methodist at Hawaii, 5 p.m., Stan Sheriff Center
Rice at Nevada
Texas-El Paso at Fresno State
Texas Christian at San Jose State