FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Each of UH's seniors has a hidden talent. Janevia Taylor, left, can do all kinds of dances; Cassidy Chretien can dance zydeco; Brittany Grice makes "a darn good grilled-cheese sandwich;" Amber Lee cooks Chinese food; and Pam Tambini does tae kwon do.
Seniors going out on a streak
The five Rainbow Wahine seniors playing their final home game tomorrow night have experienced a basket full of emotions during their time on the Hawaii basketball team.
San Jose State at Hawaii
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
Tickets: General admission. $8 adults, $6 seniors. UH students with valid ID and children ages 4-18 free.
Notes: The first 200 fans will receive a team photo.
Cassidy Chretien, Brittany Grice, Amber Lee, Pam Tambini and Janevia Taylor will focus on extending UH's six-game winning streak, then let different emotions take over as they are honored on senior night after the game.
Grice, Lee, Tambini and Taylor joined the program as freshmen, while Chretien came aboard last year. They all arrived at the Manoa campus with goals.
Grice wanted to improve herself as a player and a person.
"I think I accomplished those things. I think I have become so much stronger. I think I understand what mental toughness is," said Grice, who is second all-time in blocked shots and ninth in rebounds.
Not only has the 6-foot-4 center played with knee and back injuries, but she has had to deal with her mother Dianne's ongoing battle with cancer.
"I thank the Lord I've had the coaches' and my teammates' support to help me the last four years," Grice said.
An All-Western Athletic Conference academic selection every year, Grice graduates May 13. She has committed to attending law school at Notre Dame, but has the option to defer if she chooses (depending on her injuries) to pursue a pro basketball career.
She worked as a volunteer with Gov. Linda Lingle's campaign last summer.
"I enjoyed that experience. Politics and government is where I think I'm headed," said Grice, who plans to concentrate on international law at Notre Dame.
Tambini listed her goals as a freshman as working on her game and getting a degree.
"Education-wise, I've gotten all I can out of it," said the co-captain, who is majoring in psychology with a pre-med emphasis.
Tambini, on the All-WAC honor roll last year, will graduate in May 2008 and will apply to the UH medical school as well as schools on the mainland. She is leaning toward pediatrics or geriatrics.
"Basketball-wise, I'm sure I could have done a little better if I didn't have to fight so many darn injuries (stress fractures in both feet)," said the 5-10 forward, who has led the Wahine in scoring 10 times this season.
"My four years in Hawaii has been one big learning experience. The coaching change and the injuries caused me to grow up real fast. Being away from home and not having my immediate family close opened my eyes to the reality of life."
Lee set out to grow as an individual and get a good education.
"I've gotten out of my shell. When I came here I was shy and indecisive. Being in athletics, I've had to learn to be a people person," said Lee, a 6-1 forward.
Lee has come off the bench in all 66 games she played in for the Wahine. She takes a lot of pride in pushing her teammates in practice to help them get better.
"When I started as a freshman, I thought four years was so far away, but it came so fast. I'm going to graduate this fall and everything is moving so fast," said Lee, an All-WAC Academic honoree each year.
She is majoring in marketing and family resources. She wants a career in social work or special education with children and plans to get some work experience in that area, then consider graduate school.
"I'm happy it is senior night. I've never been a sad person. It's another steppingstone that I have accomplished," said Taylor, who is in the Wahine top 10 lists for points (ninth), 3-point shots attempted (first) and made (fourth), assists (eighth) and steals (eighth).
"My freshman year, I didn't think I was going to make it. I was ready to go home, but I had a lot of encouragement from my mom (Joy McClendon) and high school coach (Paul Akahoshi)," said Taylor, a 5-5 guard.
"My mom told me she never saw me as a quitter. My high school coach was always there to give me advice on and off the court. I could call him any time.
"When I came here, mentally you could frustrate me very easily. Now, I use that as a motivation. When people say I can't do this or that, I just want to prove them wrong."
Taylor has a double major in business and marketing and ethnic studies. She will graduate this summer if the courses she needs are available, otherwise this fall.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with it (ethnic studies). I just wanted to learn it," Taylor said. "I'm still very much into business. I want to own my own clothing shop and make a lot of money."
Chretien transferred from Angelina College in Texas wanting to do well in basketball and get her bachelor's degree.
"It's been a bumpy two years (because of her playing time)," Chretien said. "Basketball is my life, but God always puts you in a situation for a reason and you have to take it as a learning experience."
She is majoring in American studies and will graduate in December. She plans to return home, take a semester off, then go to graduate school at Southern or Louisiana-Lafayette.
"What I really want to do is coach high school boys somewhere in the South," Chretien said.
"I will feel good about my two years in Hawaii in November when I'm about to get that paper (diploma)."
They all shared a thought about a special moment at UH. One of Grice's comes from her first year.
"All seven of us freshmen ate together in the cafeteria and you couldn't have put together a more different group of people," said Grice, who also called the two victories over Louisiana Tech equally memorable.
Tambini's highlight is meeting boyfriend Pierre-Henri Soero, a member of the UH golf team.
"He has kept me sane for four years," Tambini said.
For Lee, she will remember meeting all her new teammates over the years.
"The team is like my family, my sisters. If you need someone, they are there for you. If you need a laugh, they make you laugh," Lee said.
Taylor said beating LaTech here last year and the game the Wahine won at LaTech this year when the Lady Techsters celebrated their senior night are unforgettable memories
"And, watching North Carolina play here this year," she added.
Chretien's career highlight was no surprise.
"Beating LaTech at LaTech," said the 5-5 guard from Lake Charles, La.
Chretien calmly went to the foul line and sank two free throws with 6 seconds left to give UH the 60-59 win.
"I just focused my mind on putting the ball in the hole. I knew my family was there and that they would be proud of me either way," Chretien said.