Saturday, November 7, 1998

R A I N B O W _ B A S K E T B A L L

Wahine put forward
spin on new season

By Al Chase


Two weeks of preparation remain before the Hawaii Wahine open the 1998-99 basketball season against Minnesota in the Hawaiian Regent Classic Nov. 20.

There have been a couple of surprises and some progress in the three weeks since the start of practice, according to UH head coach Vince Goo.

Definitely not a surprise has been the play of BJ Itoman, Kylie Page and Raylene Howard, the three returning starters.

"We expect them to be better. They should be better," Goo said.

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Hawaii guard BJ Itoman heads to the
basket against Rice last season.

Itoman, 5-foot-5 and the lone senior, will run the Wahine offense from her point guard position and is just as adroit at frustrating opponents with her tough, persistent perimeter defense.

Four forwards make up the rest of the offense. No shooting guards or power forwards or post players this year. Just forwards who can shoot, which is what the 6-foot Page and Howard did last year.

Page and the 5-11 Howard were 23rd and 26th, respectively, in field goal percentage nationally a year ago. Page hit 176 of 301 attempts (58.5) and Howard made 169 of 292 tries (57.9).

Page also finished third in 3-point field goal percentage, making 48 of 99 (48.5).

"The perimeter shooting has been OK, but for us to be sound, we're going to have to shoot 3s better," Goo said.

The surprises have been junior Kyla Evers (5-8) and sophomore Crystal Lee (5-10), who are the leading candidates to fill the position held by Nani Cockett.

"They both had good summers and went big on conditioning," Goo said. "Good players are made in the off-season."

Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe, a 5-9 freshman from Wellington, N.Z., also is in the mix, but has been working at point guard with the first unit. This is necessary since Maj Forsberg is still recovering from shoulder surgery.

A healthy Hedy Liu has the inside track on the fourth starting position. The 5-11 junior probably will be called on to hold down the center position on defense, which will make Page, at defensive center last year, happy.

The tallest Wahine, 6-3 Sarah Petersen, was told last spring by Goo and associate coach George Wolfe, in charge of post players, to go home, get mean and learn to be assertive in the middle.

"Some days she gets after it in practice, some days she doesn't," Wolfe said.

"She isn't challenging for the position yet. That's where coaching comes in," Goo said.

The Wahine scrimmaged twice and Goo was pleased with the improvement between the first and second session.

"It's going to be 'get and go.' We have to make opponents play all 94 feet (length of the court) and do it in 20 seconds, not 30," Goo said. "I think we have players who are intelligent and will recognize when we can't 'go' and change to the half-court game.

"We're going to need players playing well without the ball. We going to have a lot of motion. Right now we have everything in we need for preseason."

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