Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, March 23, 2001

W A H I N E _ B A S K E T B A L L

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Wahine must adjust
to higher altitude

By Al Chase

With tomorrow's University of Hawaii women's basketball game being played in Albuquerque, N.M., at an altitude considerably above sea level, the reserves' contributions will be even more important than they have been in the first three Women's National Invitation Tournament games.

Karena Greeny and Natasja Allen, backups at the wing and forward positions, have averaged 18 and 11 minutes of playing time, respectively, in the WNIT games. They can expect a lot of court minutes against the New Mexico Lobos (21-12) tomorrow night.

Greeny began the season as a starter in the 2 spot, but lost the job to April Atuaia after five games.

"Obviously, I was disappointed at first," Greeny said. "I understood I wasn't playing the way the coaches thought I should be playing. It wasn't too hard of a switch. Coming off the bench has been my role ever since I've been here."

Greeny wasn't providing the scoring punch the coaches hoped for. She was aggressive in scrimmages, but wasn't looking to score that much during games.

The 5-foot-11 junior can play the 2 or 3 spots and attracted interest from the Wahine coaches while in high school, where she played point guard.

"Karena has good ball-handling skills and is fundamentally sound as a rebounder, and we can match her up defensively," Hawaii head coach Vince Goo said. "Karena will be at the 2 spot if she and Crystal (Lee) are in there, and she'll be at the 3 if April or Christa (Brossman) are in there."

The longer the UH season goes, the more short breaks Goo likes to give his starters. That's especially important when teams like Oklahoma State and Santa Clara use 10- or 11-player rotations to keep fresh legs on the court.

"When you come off the bench, you only have a few minutes," Greeny said. "My attitude is, when you're in there, do as much as you can because you know it's a limited time period."

The Wahine (26-7) played here when New Mexico was part of the Western Athletic Conference. Goo says Albuquerque is the second worst place to play after Wyoming among the current Mountain West Conference members.

Allen, a 6-2 sophomore, did not get a lot of playing time until after the WAC tournament.

"She knows now she is going to get a lot of minutes and that in itself gives her confidence," said UH assistant coach Jon Newlee. "Natasja knows if she makes a mistake now she will stay in and won't be coming out.

"She has all the skills in the world. I've said for two years now that she has the best post moves on this team. But, as a freshman and a sophomore, she's been up and down. It gets to be mental."

Allen has five rebounds and 13 points in the WNIT and didn't commit a turnover in the first two games, but was charged with three against Oklahoma State.

However, she had two assists against OSU, equaling her season game high.

Allen spells both Christen Roper and Dainora Puida, and can play the small forward spot if Goo wants maximum height in the game for rebounding purposes.

Returning to The Pit

Lee and Greeny are the only Wahine players who have played in The Pit. Lee was a sophomore and Greeny a redshirt freshman when UH lost to the Lobos, 69-55, on the last visit here, Feb. 7, 1999.

"The Pit is very intimidating," Lee said. "We've never played in front of a fan base like that. We'll have to adjust quickly."

Former Wahine Kyla Evers agreed. "The fans are brutal. You can't hear anything. We had to use sign language to call the plays," she said.

Added Goo: "The crowd won't bother us. It's the altitude I'm worried about."

Hoping to come home

UH will submit a bid soon to host the WNIT championship game on Thursday, should the Wahine win tomorrow.

The other possibilities if the Wahine win are playing for the title Tuesday at Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, or at James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., Wednesday.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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