After playing only eight games as a freshman, Natasja Allen has become a fixture in the Rainbow Wahine's lineup.

Allen thrives at Hawaii
after changes

Probable starters

By Al Chase

Natasja Allen has made several life adjustments during her four years in the Hawaii women's basketball program.

There was the adjustment to college living, the adjustment to a basketball program that played the game differently than her high school team, a potential career adjustment and a healthy adjustment with her eating habits.

"There is a lot of freedom when you go to college. When I was a senior in high school, I had to be home by 9 p.m. After the first two months of being out all hours here, I realized that had to change," the senior said.

At home she has a car. Here she did not until her junior year.

"I was used to having a car, but learned how to use the bus system here even when it meant a three-hour ride to get to the North Shore," said Allen.

She pulled a 3.5 grade-point average the first semester of her freshman year and thought "this is easy." But that wasn't going to be the situation for long.

"I almost never had homework or required reading in high school, so it was a big change to have those and be responsible for studying. Mom wasn't there anymore asking if my homework was done," said Allen.

Girls basketball at North Kitsap High School in Port Orchard, Wash., relied on one offense, the fast break. This was how the team stayed in condition.

"We never ran sprints (up and down the court) in high school. The first day of practice here, when the coaches said, 'get on the line' that was a shock," Allen said. "I learned real fast you have to do a lot of your own conditioning.

"I look at pictures of myself as a freshman and I look like a cow. After my freshman year, I dropped a lot of weight. Since then the loss has been in smaller increments, but I feel better, run better and last longer on the court. I've dropped 30 pounds.

"I'm also eating better. I became a vegetarian last summer. My roommate (former Wahine Karena Greeny) and I have a list posted on the door of good things we should do like drink more water, watch less TV, get out more and eat well."

As those adjustments occurred, Allen assimilated the Wahine brand of basketball. She played in just eight games as a freshman, but saw action in all 32 games as a sophomore. Her time arrived as a starter last year and she hasn't missed being on the court for the opening tip in the last 40 games.

"Natasja just had more experienced people in front of her. When a player comes in for four years, they have to learn as much as they can and be ready for minutes (on the court) as a junior and senior," said Hawaii coach Vince Goo.

"I think she had a pretty good preseason, perhaps not as good as last year, but that was exceptional. She has been consistent this year."

Allen averaged 29 minutes a game last year and is up to 31 this year. Her scoring and rebounding averages also are up and her turnovers per game are down. The 6-foot-2 forward has connected on 50 percent (41 of 82) of her field-goal attempts this year and led the Wahine in scoring three times.

She needs six credits to graduate with a degree in exercise science. However, her career plans have changed.

A year ago Allen contemplated living in Europe after graduation, where there is a demand for physical therapists and perhaps giving pro basketball a try. She may still get to Europe, but now it will be compliments of the U.S. Army.

She signed up for Army ROTC last summer. With the course work needed to be commissioned as a second lieutenant, graduation is now set for May 2004.


When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE (Channel 5)
Radio: Live, 1420-AM
Tickets: All seats general admission. $7 adults, $6 seniors, $4 for children (age 4-17) and UH students.
Parking: $3


Probable starters

HAWAII (6-3)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Michelle Gabriel (Sr.) 5-6 6.1 2.7 2.7

G April Atuaia (Jr.) 5-10 10.3 5.4 2.7

F Natasja Allen (Sr.) 6-2 11.6 6.9 1.0

F Jade Abele (Soph.) 5-11 12.6 3.3 3.8

C Christen Roper (Sr.) 6-5 11.1 9.4 0.6


Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Kia Dowell (Jr.) 5-6 12.9 4.4 3.7

G Vaida Zagurskyte (Jr.) 5-9 14.5 5.8 4.0

F Dragana Zoric (Sr.) 5-10 15.8 9.3 2.3

F Gabbie Sutton (Sr.) 6-0 4.6 4.2 0.5

C Romie DeAnda (Sr.) 6-1 7.3 2.8 0.5

Notes: The Wahine have won all 10 games against the Miners. ... In the last meeting Feb. 28, UH prevailed 64-48 here. ... The Wahine compiled a team grade-point average of 3.13 for the fall semester. ... Hawaii has been the runner-up in WAC regular-season play the past three years. ... The Wahine are 5-1 in WAC openers. ... Five of the six teams Hawaii defeated have winning records and a combined 34-20 mark. ... Sacramento State (1-8) is the only opponent with a losing record.

UH Athletics

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