HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Utah recruit Iwalani Rodrigues brings firepower to Kalani's lineup after transferring from Roosevelt.
Kalani working on mental game
George Weeks was just trying to find a way home when he stumbled upon the girls head coaching position at Kalani.
Top 10 Countdown
With girls high school basketball season approaching, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10, as determined in a poll of coaches and media members:
Weeks spent the last eight seasons as boys varsity basketball coach at Menlo School in California.
The Iolani graduate was looking to move back to the islands when he saw an ad for a coaching position at Kalani in the paper. Next thing he knew, he was on his way home.
"It just worked out," Weeks said. "It's a good situation."
The Falcons made the state tournament a year ago, and have plenty of talent back this year as they are ranked fifth in the Star Bulletin preseason Top 10.
Kalani has won five of its first six preseason games, with its only loss coming to his alma mater.
"We're just trying to play smart basketball and take advantage of what we have," Weeks said. "The kids we have coming back are talented but inexperienced."
2006-07 record: 25-6 (12-3 OIA Red)
On paper: The Falcons lost seniors Courtney Gaddis and Megan Kamehiro. Both finished in the top six of the division in scoring. They added Roosevelt transfer Iwalani Rodrigues, however, who is one of the top players in the state.
Rodrigues, who has already committed to Utah, will team with talented post players Rhianna Farm and Violet Alama to give Kalani a skilled front line. Senior guard Chloe Martin is the most basketball-savvy player on the team, according to Weeks. Juniors Ashlyn Onaga and Jamie Higa are the most talented players coming up from junior varsity.
The skinny: The firepower the Falcons lost from a season ago should be made up by the 5-foot-10 Rodrigues, who averaged 15 points a game for Roosevelt last season. They could be somewhat of a mystery team. Weeks says his girls will adapt to how other teams play them.
"Everything changes with any given opponent." Weeks said. "Just playing smart, cerebral basketball is what we're trying to do."
Martin and Rodrigues are seasoned veterans, but they also have a lot of inexperienced players getting significant minutes, making the preseason that much more important.
X-factor: Offensive and defensive execution are keys. Weeks stressed the importance of team basketball and playing collectively as a unit. He wants to see them do a better job of managing game and clock situations and being able to exploit mismatches on the court.
Getting the team to understand the ins and outs of the game and become more intelligent on the basketball court is what the Falcons are working on in the preseason.