A new beginning at 'Iolani


POSTED: Monday, December 22, 2008

The cupboard was left bare after 'Iolani reached the girls basketball state final, graduated all five starters and said goodbye to longtime coach Glenn Takara.






        With league play in high school basketball approaching, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10s, as determined in a poll of coaches and media members:


10. Honokaa


9. Waiakea


8. 'Iolani



Even their most promising young post player transferred out. In the furious, carnivorous world of Interscholastic League of Honolulu basketball, the future seemed somewhat bleak for the Raiders, especially with only two returning seniors.

Not so, in hindsight. New coach Marlene Zeug brings a new energy and fresh ideas to 'Iolani. The new-look Raiders have more balance thanks to two newcomers in the post and some steady play from a new starting backcourt.

“;They have tremendous heart,”; Zeug said of her new team.

Coaches and media voted 'Iolani No. 8 in the Star-Bulletin Girls Basketball Top 10.

On paper: The Raiders went 24-5 (12-2 in league play) last season, thrust by All-State forward Jamie Smith. This season, nonconference competition has been brutal: Long Beach Poly (Calif.) and Westlake (Calif.), Konawaena (twice) and Farrington. There was also an exhibition against an all-star team of 18- and 19-year-olds from Australia.

Tami Konishi and Lori Yamashita (11 points per game) have taken the lead as guards. Kylie Maeda has added more scoring punch, softening the blow when center Hailey Maeda (no relation) transferred to Punahou after receiving a significant financial-aid package.

Mahina Haina, a 5-foot-11 volleyball standout, was in the gym long before basketball season began to work on her low-post game. Up from the JV team, she teams with another volleyball star, Georgette Lopes-Liutolo (5-9), to give the Raiders an athletic tandem in the paint.

'Iolani edged Roosevelt 59-55 in overtime on Saturday and improved to 3-5.

The skinny: Zeug is a former player and assistant coach from arch rival Punahou, but was happy to join the Raiders after a hiatus over the past few years.

“;She's energetic and wants to play with intensity. She wants you to get the job done and we need that push,”; Yamashita said.

Zeug is patient as the five new starters jell.

“;The chemistry is coming. Playing big, rough, physical teams woke us up,”; she said. “;It helped all of them.”;

X factor: As much as anyone, Zeug understands what it takes to beat her former team at Punahou. 'Iolani has the ballhandlers and athleticism on the boards to compete with the defending league and state champions, but with a shorter preseason this year, the learning curve is steep.