Hawaii, Kansas State battle at UNLV tourney


POSTED: Saturday, December 19, 2009

Getting a weakness exposed is one thing.

BYU's exploitation of the Hawaii women's basketball team's fatal flaw—an inability to handle fullcourt pressure—went several notches above that in an 81-44 demolition of the Rainbow Wahine in the Hukilau Invitational on Dec. 5.

Those 40 minutes in Laie amounted to a large, flashing sign that pointed straight at the Rainbow Wahine, reading “;DO THIS AGAINST US.”;

Besides final exams, it was pretty obvious what Dana Takahara-Dias' team needed to work on in the two weeks since that humbling experience. Much of their practice time was devoted to beating the press in preparation for the eight-team Duel in the Desert tournament at UNLV starting today.

UH (3-5) plays Kansas State (4-5) at Cox Pavilion in the first round at 5:30 p.m.

“;If anyone saw the game film of us against BYU, everyone should press us,”; Takahara-Dias said. “;So we needed to work hard on making sure we have our patterns down, our options available, and confidence in our players to break any kind of press.”;





        When: Today, 5:30 p.m.

Where: UNLV's Cox Pavilion


TV: None


Radio: None


Live stats: unlvrebels.com




So Takahara-Dias exhorted the Wahine scout team, “;Da Braddahs,”; (male UH students plus team manager/former player Tara Hittle) to show no mercy in four sessions devoted almost exclusively to beating presses.

The Wahine will likely find out how much improvement they've made over the next three days. BYU jumped out to a 31-2 lead by forcing turnovers and forcing UH out of its offensive sets.

“;That was a tough loss,”; said point guard Keisha Kanekoa, who leads the team in points (11.2 per game) and assists (3.1). “;We worked on (the press) a lot this week, our press-breaker. We filled in different options, looked at who was open so we could handle the pressure. We're more productive. Before, we didn't go over it a lot and have a lot of repetition, but this week we did against our scout team.”;

It can only help; the tourney is stacked, with No. 10 Florida State (9-0), DePaul (7-3), and Arkansas (6-3) heading the field. Hawaii will face either host UNLV (4-5) or Virginia Commonwealth (5-2) in its second game tomorrow, and play a third opponent from the other side of the bracket on Monday.

“;Any time you play three straight games in a tournament style, it takes a toll on you physically and mentally,”; Takahara-Dias said. “;We have to learn to play back-to-back-to-back games, and we have to learn fatigue is part of it ... that is a concern of ours, if we are able to keep up the intensity and level of high play for three straight days.”;

If UH should meet UNLV, Takahara-Dias would encounter Rebels forward Jamie Smith, an 'Iolani graduate who played under Takahara-Dias on the Team Aloha All-Star squad.

The 6-foot Smith, last season's Mountain West freshman of the year, averages 8.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

“;It'll be great to see Jamie in action because I know she's one of the favorite Lady Rebels there,”; Takahara-Dias said. “;It would have been nice to have her as a favorite Rainbow Wahine player, but that didn't work out.

“;We've seen her play in the summer league and she's really expanded her game. We would love to see (UNLV) in the semifinals, and for us to advance (through) the first game, that would be a great accomplishment in itself for us.”;