Freshman wing player Amy Sanders has improved throughout her freshman season with the Rainbow Wahine.

Sanders finding
comfort zone

By Al Chase

If someone asked Amy Sanders during her junior year in high school where she was contemplating playing college basketball, Hawaii wouldn't have even been a blip on her radar screen.

This was the case even though UH coaches first saw her play as a high school sophomore and started sending her athletic and academic information during her junior year.

"My family is very close. My parents played basketball and my brother played in high school. I would shoot baskets with my dad every day," said Sanders, who joins her Rainbow Wahine teammates in hosting Fresno State tonight. "Originally there was no way I was going to leave home."

Although going far away from home in Huntington Beach, Calif., was a major consideration, she also knew she did not want to play in a small-college program near home and the Division I California schools that showed interest did not have winning programs.

She made a recruiting trip to Wyoming, but admits she does not handle cold very well. Next up was the official trip to Hawaii she made during the Midnight Ohana weekend in October 2001.

"What I was looking for was the best basketball program where I liked the coaches and the players," said Sanders, a 5-foot-11 freshman wing player. "I wanted to go where they really wanted you and not some place where they played games with you. The UH coaches really recruited me a lot."

She made her trip to Hawaii the same weekend fellow freshman Trisha Nishimoto made her official visit. Sanders was hosted by Karena Greeny and Christa Brossman.

"I went to classes with them and they were really good at answering my questions," Sanders said.

Sanders took a couple of weeks to make up her mind, then signed with Hawaii early so there would be fewer distractions during her senior season at Mater Dei.

But, when it came time for the flight to Hawaii to start school, Sanders said, "I was a wreck. It was terrible."

Once the Rainbow Wahine season began she had to adjust to not having her parents at every game, not being able to look into the stands for a sign of encouragement.

Then there was a new program, new coaches, new offense and new defense to get used to. The honorable mention McDonald's All-American said many of her points in high school, where she averaged better than 20 points a game for three years, came on fast breaks. Hawaii usually relies on a structured half-court offense.

"There was a lot to learn. So much is thrown at you so fast, you wonder if you can ever do anything right," Sanders said. "It's easy for me to get down, but my friends at home help and my roommate (freshman center Callie Spooner) always brings my spirits up."

However, after Sunday's 54-40 victory over San Jose State in which Sanders scored in double figures for the first time with 11, she indicated a comfort zone was becoming part of her game.

"I don't think Amy was satisfied with her shooting percentage," UH coach Vince Goo said. "I think she has adjusted to the different options throughout the offense and this may have been a breakout game for her."

"She is getting better at recognizing things as they develop on the floor, what to do and what not to do. I'm encouraged by her last game."

Sanders admits being more of a freelance player when she arrived here and, in the early games, would break off a pattern because she thought there was an opening to take advantage of.

"I would see something I wanted to do and forget we were trying to get a certain shot. We didn't always have five solid players in high school, but here, everyone can catch and shoot," she said.

Sanders is still refining her shot. It can be a little flat at times. She is becoming more adept at getting to the spot on the floor where she can get a shot off.

Goo has started Sanders twice and she averages 18 minutes a game, but she was quick to make a point about last Sunday's performance.

"It was only one game," Sanders said. The unspoken word was she would like to have that kind of game more often.

Fresno State at Hawaii

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

Probable starters

FRESNO STATE (9-7, 3-3)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Lindsay Logan (Sr.) 5-6 11.9 4.1 3.1

G Tiffany Simon (Sr.) 5-10 7.7 5.4 1.8

G Chanie Sutherland (Jr.) 5-8 1.8 1.8 1.3

F Java Johnson (Jr.) 5-11 6.2 7.2 1.7

C Omelogo Udeze (Sr.) 6-1 13.3 8.4 0.7

HAWAII (9-5, 3-2)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Michelle Gabriel (Sr.) 5-6 5.9 2.4 4.2

G April Atuaia (Jr.) 5-10 9.3 4.9 2.5

F Natasja Allen (Sr.) 6-2 11.0 6.6 0.9

F Jade Abele (Soph.) 5-11 11.6 3.5 2.5

C Christen Roper (Sr.) 6-5 11.1 8.4 0.7

Notes: The Wahine lead the series 22-6 and have won the last 14 games. ... In the last meeting, UH defeated FSU 66-47 at Fresno on Feb. 21. ... Senior center Christen Roper leads UH with four double-doubles.

UH Athletics

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