Sunday, February 29, 2004

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Point guard Raelen Self's contributions to her Loyola Marymount team can't be measured by statistics.


LOYOLA Marymount's women's basketball team has won 13 straight games, won its first West Coast Conference championship, and is probably going to the NCAA's Big Dance.

So why is one of the Lions' most important players a skinny Hawaiian who makes less than one-third of her shots, a few more than half of her free throws, and is the lowest scorer in Loyola Marymount's starting lineup?

You have to see and know senior Raelen Self of Makaha, a 2000 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools, to understand that.

"Her height (5-foot-6) and frame (137 pounds) are not impressive," two-time WCC Coach of the Year Julie Wilhoite of Loyola Marymount admits. "When you first see her you wonder how she can compete against these big-body girls.

"Then you meet her, you talk to her, you see her play and she is so much bigger than her frame. She is as big as her smile and as big as her attitude."

Self, a captain and All-State player on Kamehameha's 1999 and 2000 state championship teams, has been LMU's starting point guard for more than three years -- 84 games.

Self plays more than 29 minutes per game, second most on her team and her most impressive statistic.

"She starts our motion offense (which provides scoring opportunities for others)," Wilhoite said. "She understands her role and she is comfortable in it.

"We call Rae our little garbage collector. She comes up with loose balls, gets long offensive rebounds. She is a player able to ignite things."

Self has never scored more than 13 points in a game. Her average this season is 4.8.

But "she means so much from a leadership standpoint," Wilhoite said. "Her impact on this team, not just as a basketball player, but also as a spiritual person, as a student ... it rubs off on the younger kids."

Leadership defines Self and is the basketball accomplishment she is most proud of.

"I have a group of teammates who believe in me, who support my decisions," Self said. "Being able to be the leader that they need, a vocal as well as emotional leader, and being able to get the OK to do what I want to do -- those things are most significant to me."

Something else significant happened to Self on Thursday. She was named to the 11-player WCC All-Academic team for her 3.26 grade-point average as a pre-med student.

This term, besides helping a championship basketball team win a school-record 22 games (so far), Self is taking biochemistry and medicinal chemistry. She has already taken the Medical College Admissions Test.

"She is just amazing," Wilhoite said, "graduating on time in four years with a natural science major and biochemistry minor."

Self's ultimate ambition is to graduate from the UH medical school and become a heart surgeon. But first she has a few more opposing defenses to cut up.

"She gets it done," Wilhoite said. "She shows up to play, she shows up in the community, she shows up in the classroom, competing with some of the brightest students in the country, she shows up for her family (she took time off from practice for her sister Drae's wedding in October).

"She juggles many things and absolutely does it at such a high level.

"Raelen Self could be the poster child for the NCAA for 'Can Do.' "

Notes: Raelen Self's middle name, Kawaikapuokalani, means "the sacred waters of the heavens." She was named by her grandmother, who dreamed about her before her mother was pregnant and decided she was a gift from heaven.


Clay heads to heptathlon
with his dog days behind him

The Castle alumnus comes off
a long-jump loss to a canine

Honolulu's Bryan Clay is en route to Budapest, Hungary, to compete in the heptathlon next weekend at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Today, as a warm-up, he will be one of 11 invited long jumpers at the U.S. Indoor Championships in Boston.

Hopefully, Clay will fare better than the last time he was seen long-jumping -- on Fox television nationwide on Feb. 16.

That night Clay jumped against a dog -- and lost.

By a nose.

It was part of the Man vs. Beast series and the mano-a-canine jumping competition took place at Lake Castaic, near Magic Mountain in California.

"It was no fair," lamented Clay, a former NAIA long-jump champion and runner-up in the USA decathlon the last two years.

Morgan outjumped Honolulu's Bryan Clay on national TV.

"They measured to the last part of you that went under water," Clay explained. "The dog (a 4-year old black Labrador retriever named Morgan) hydroplaned the last 4 feet with his nose in the air. His nose was the last thing that went under."

"Besides, he's a world champion and he's in great shape."

Clay and Morgan alternated three jumps each off the end of a floating dock.

"I was more out of my element than he was," said Clay, a 1998 graduate of Castle High School.

Carl Lewis, the world record holder, was the master of ceremonies. "It was so much fun, we had a blast," Clay said.

Next weekend will be Clay's second heptathlon ever. He took third place on Feb. 6-7 in Tallinn, Estonia, in an event won by world decathlon champion Roman S'ebrle of the Czech Republic.

The following week, Clay improved his personal-best pole vault by 734 inches to 16-9. Had he done that in Estonia, he would have been the winner.


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