Saturday, January 3, 2004


Hawaii junior forward Jade Abele is the only Wahine player to average double-digit scoring, putting up 17.7 points a game. She also leads the team in assists, rebounds, steals and blocks.

Struggling Wahine
start WAC on road

Most basketball teams wouldn't go on the road to search for solutions to their troubles. The Rainbow Wahine don't have much of a choice.

Hawaii and its six freshmen will find out how rough the road can be as the Rainbow Wahine open Western Athletic Conference play with a three-game trip. Hawaii plays Fresno State today at 11 a.m. at the Save Mart Center. Nevada follows on Monday and San Jose State closes out the trip on Thursday.

Wahine basketball

All times Hawaii time

Today: Hawaii at Fresno State, 11 a.m.

Monday: Hawaii at Nevada, 5 p.m.

Thursday: Hawaii at San Jose State, 5 p.m.

TV: None

Radio: Live, 1420-AM

"We have good players. Maybe we'll play well away," said senior guard April Atuaia. "We'll see how the younger players adjust to being on the road. Maybe that'll be to our advantage."

It is not usually advantageous to open with three consecutive conference games on the road, but crafting the schedule was not in UH's hands. This is the toughest trip of the season and a killer way to start the WAC after a preseason that handed the Wahine (2-7) more than their share of lickings.

Hawaii isn't exactly clueless about where it needs to improve. The main theme to come to light after seven losses is that the Rainbow Wahine are consistently inconsistent.

"What we told them is that everybody needs to come and have their best game on the same night," Hawaii coach Vince Goo said. "If we can do that, we can be a pretty good team.

"You can't have one person relying on another person. They all have to have their best performance. ... Jade (Abele) has been a very bright spot for us, very consistent. After Jade, it's been very inconsistent."

April Atuaia, UH's only senior, is second on the team in scoring and rebounds. She says playing on the road can be a good thing.

Abele has been the most steady, scoring 20 points or more in five of Hawaii's last seven games and getting 19 points in each of the other two games. Besides Abele, Hawaii hasn't had enough offense from the few veterans on this team. Goo said that he had hoped for better performances from Atuaia, the lone senior on his team.

The Wahine get contributions from different players on different nights, but piecing together a solid team performance has proven as elusive as victories.

"The last couple of games we've really started getting it together a bit more," Abele said. "If we just play consistently, if we play good defense the whole game ... . We've tended to play in halves.

"We might have a bad half and then score 40 points in the second half. Once we get the whole game together, get on the same page, then we're a great team."

It isn't unrealistic to think Hawaii could put it together by the end. Fresno State went through a similar process a year ago in coach Stacy Johnson-Klein's first year. By the end, the Bulldogs had blossomed and Johnson-Klein had Fresno State in the WAC final.

Fresno State (6-4) lost three starting seniors, but the Bulldogs have Aiea grad Aritta Lane back. The junior forward has increased her workload and leads Fresno in scoring with 15.9 points per game and is third in rebounding (6.2 rpg).

Note: Freshman Pam Tambini has a sprained left foot and is questionable. But the rookie guard did make the trip.


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