UH learning on the go
Jim Bolla's second season as the Rainbow Wahine basketball coach won't be spent learning the opening chapter of the playbook.
Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic
Today: Today, Hawaii vs. USC, 7 p.m.
Tomorrow: USC vs. Eastern Illinois, 5 p.m.
Monday: Hawaii vs. Eastern Illinois, 6 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Radio: KKEA 1420- AM, UH vs. USC, live; UH vs. E. Illinois, joined in progress
Tickets: $8 adults, $6 seniors. UH students and children age 4-18 free
With 12 returning starters and a full complement of coaches sitting next to him on the bench, Bolla sees phase two of his reconstruction project in a more favorable light.
"We are way ahead of last year philosophically. Everyone has bought into the style we want to play," Bolla said.
Bolla will find out in a hurry how much his team still has to learn. The Wahine open today against Southern California in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Classic, which also features the Eastern Illinois Panthers. The Trojans are ranked No. 22 in the USA Today poll and No. 24 in the AP poll.
"They have a super-quick point guard and like to pressure. I think it is great for us to open against a ranked team," said Bolla.
It's likely USC will challenge Hawaii as the Rainbow Wahine continue their transition under Bolla's watchful eye. He introduced his up-tempo, push-the-ball-up-the-court style of play last year and had a modicum of success. He believes being aggressive offensively, before opposing defenses can get set, is the quickest way to get Hawaii back in the upper echelon of the Western Athletic Conference.
"Last year we did it about 50 percent of the time. This year we should do it 75 percent of the time. It is getting better," Bolla said.
The Wahine want the quick score, the layup, the short jumper, and if those options aren't available, Bolla wants his players to do an instant read and run other options before the defense settles in.
He does not want his players to throw the ball back out and be forced to run a set play. However, that is exactly what he hopes his defense can do so opponents have less time to work for a good shot.
"Right now, we're a little bit behind installing the offense. This team is very cerebral. They tend to analyze too much," said Bolla. "When we make a little change we think it will be better for us, but we have to show them five or six times for them to see it.
"We need a lot more repetitions. We've been working on not calling plays. We want them to recognize when we enter the ball that there are certain options. They have to know what they are."
The post (center) and forward positions are interchangeable, although 6-foot-4 junior Brittany Grice will spend the majority of her time in the post.
Callie Spooner, a 6-foot-3 senior, juniors Alofa Toiaivao (6-4) and Amber Lee (6-1) and 6-3 sophomore Tanya Smith will be in the rotation.
"Brittany came back with a vengeance from being sick this fall. She is in pretty good shape for not doing any conditioning this fall and is stronger under the basket. It's been kind of a blessing for her," said Bolla.
The wing positions will be handled by Amy Sanders (5-11), Pam Tambini (5-10) Saundra Cariaga (5-9), Dalia Solia (5-9) and Brittney Aiwohi (5-10).
"Brittney is kind of in between. She is more of a wing, but we're having her play the post. The more positions you know, the more chances you have to play," said Bolla.
Janevia Taylor, a 5-5 junior, is the point guard. Junior college transfer Cassidy Chretien is the backup and Sanders also could see time at the position.
Sanders (12.0 ppg) and Taylor (11.7 ppg) were the top two scorers a year ago. Toiaivao is the top returning rebounder.
Spooner, Aiwohi and Sanders are the captains.