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Thursday, December 16, 2004



[ WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ]


art
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Brittany Grice grabbed a rebound in front of Southeast Missouri's Chandra Brown and Simone Jackson on Dec. 9.


Pair of Hawaii coaches
have made Grice better

Brittany Grice understood there were aspects of her game that needed improving over the summer after her freshman season last year.

That was even before retired head coach Vince Goo spoke to Grice briefly after she fouled out against Boise State in the final UH game in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

Ala Moana Hotel Paradise Classic

At Stan Sheriff Center

Schedule: Today, Hawaii vs. Houston, 7 p.m. Tomorrow, Houston vs. Wake Forest, 5 p.m. Saturday, Hawaii vs. Wake Forest, 4 p.m.

TV: UH games live on KFVE, Ch. 5

Radio: UH games live on KKEA, 1420-AM

Tickets: All games general admission, $8 adults, $7 seniors. UH students with valid ID, children age 4-18 free.

Parking: $3

Notes: The UH-Houston series is tied 1-1. The Wahine have not played Wake Forest. ... Alofa Toiaivao has blocked 15 shots, Brittany Grice 10 to account for 25 of Hawaii's 27 blocks. ... UH has lost 17 consecutive games to a ranked opponent. ... The Ala Moana Hotel will give out prizes during the tournament.

"He told me, 'You need to be mentally tough.' That is something that definitely stuck with me," said Grice. "Obviously, I felt horrible at fouling out. That is probably the best advice he could have given me.

"Now, I feel completely different preparing for a game this year. Coach (Jim) Bolla keeps telling me not to worry when I miss a shot, just go down and worry about playing defense."

The 6-foot-4 sophomore center started 21 of 28 games and averaged 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per outing a year ago.

Grice decided she needed to get faster and stronger during the summer. In high school she was used to being the tallest and strongest person, but was a little bit shocked at some of the stronger big players she went up against in college who also were quick and fast.

"I have a strength and conditioning coach at home (Redondo Beach, Calif.) who I have worked with every year since my sophomore year in high school. That is when I got serious about playing college basketball," said Grice. "I conditioned hard and lifted heavy. I stuck to the program."

She also worked on her shooting, especially her jump shot from the 8-to-10-foot range, a shot she has displayed several times this year.

"Brittany is left-handed and that really is a plus because it gives us a unique look. Most post players are right-handers," said Bolla. "We're working with her using the right hand, again so she doesn't have the same look every time.

"She runs the floor well. She is always watching tapes, taking notes, working hard."

Grice says Bolla encourages every player to shoot 3-pointers in practice and that she will take one if the opportunity is there unless Jade Abele is standing next to her.

Grice also is playing with more confidence this year. She says it took time to become an offensive player in high school and the same path is being traveled with the Wahine.

"Last year it was shoot when necessary. I didn't have the option to slowly develop. This year I'm more confident and that has a lot to with my teammates spreading the ball around," said Grice.

"Coach Bolla instills that everyone can score, that's what makes a potent offense. I think the system has grown on everyone. It's brand new and we want to exploit it for all it is worth. The entire team is more confident and that is extremely important."

Grice was 6-for-6 from the field in the last Wahine game against Brigham Young. She is averaging 6.8 points and 4.2 rebounds through five games.

Basketball is not her ultimate career goal, the field of law or the political arena are, but Grice wanted to go to a school where athletics was appreciated. She had five official recruiting visits scheduled, but only went to St. Mary's and Hawaii, although she and her family had made unofficial visits to several other campuses.

"I was convinced I was going to Brown or California, but after I visited UH, the deciding factor was the people and the location," said Grice. "I really thought I fit in when I visited and it looked like tons of fun to go to school here. My hosts, Christen Roper and Milia Macfarlane, helped sell me on UH. There was such a stark difference between here and the other schools."

A four-year honor-roll student at Redondo Union High School, a Golden State Scholar and AP scholar, Grice was All-WAC Academic as a freshman. She has a double major, history and political science.

Last summer she worked at her favorite department store, Nordstrom.

"It was 8 hours a day, but I took the job because I wanted the (employee) discount. I was in the little girls department. That was cool," said Grice.



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