Rainbow Wahine won’t catch a break at home
The gauntlet isn't over yet.
After a daunting opening to Western Athletic Conference play with four straight road games, the Hawaii women's basketball team must cope with playing defending conference champion Boise State in the Rainbow Wahine's conference home opener tomorrow.
When this week's two-game home stand against the Broncos and Idaho Vandals (Saturday) are through at the Stan Sheriff Center, it's back on the road again. Six of Hawaii's first eight WAC games are away.
Hawaii (7-10, 1-3 WAC) opened against Utah State and Nevada, returned home briefly to start the spring semester then went back on the road against Fresno State and San Jose State. Success was found only against the Spartans, 70-54.
Turnovers were a problem throughout the two trips, particularly at Utah State's Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, where Hawaii coughed up the ball 33 times. The team has averaged 27 per game in WAC play thus far.
"Well, you want to end with a win, the disappointing part is all the games were winnable games," coach Jim Bolla said as his players stretched after practice in UH's Gym II. "If we don't have as many turnovers as we had. Especially the Utah State game (a 55-48 loss). We've just got to do a better job handling the ball, and I think that's the most frustrating part for the coaches and the players."
In the final two contests, Bolla shook up the starting lineup. Freshman point guard Keisha Kanekoa -- who had started every game of the season -- came off the bench in both, while Megan Tinnin started against the Spartans and Iwona Zagrobelna and Leilani Galdones got starting nods at Fresno. The majority of the ball-handling duties went to combo guard Amy Kotani.
"Just trying to find the combination that's going to be the most effective for us," Bolla said. "Putting Keisha on the bench, she can kind of watch and we can talk to her and show her what's going on. We're going to tinker around with the lineups."
Things may be forced to change again, as Kotani might not be available for one or both of this week's games because she hurt her ankle over the weekend.
The San Jose State win was the first start of the season for Tinnin, but she responded with a career-high 18 points on 6-for-18 shooting. Not great numbers in terms of efficiency, but it was the production Bolla was looking for from a player who had played only 2 minutes in the previous game.
At the moment, Tinnin -- who made three starts as a freshman -- has no idea where her role stands, but she'll take it as it comes.
"I don't know what's going to happen -- (Bolla) changes the lineup a lot," she said. "It's hard going from one game not playing and another game starting, (but) I think maybe there was something behind it. I think it depends what type of team we're playing against; there's some kind of theory in what he does."
Boise State was selected as the top team in the WAC preseason polls, but hasn't performed up to expectations yet with a 3-2 conference record. Fresno State, picked as low as fifth, remains atop the conference standings at 4-0, including a win over the Broncos.
"It shows we can beat them, the key for us is not turning the ball over," Bolla said.
The Rainbow Wahine should have an easier time on Saturday with Idaho, which is off to a 1-4 start and is just 2-15 overall.
Junior forward Tara Hittle, of UH volleyball fame, made her first appearance in a basketball uniform at San Jose. She grabbed a rebound in 1 minute of play, and is in full swing practicing with the team.