[ WAHINE BASKETBALL ]
Young Wahine put
experience to test
The UH women's basketball
team faces San Jose State
Nothing is automatic with a young basketball team.
As Hawaii coach Vince Goo has learned often this season, if it's not one thing, it's something else.
Last week, Goo got the effort he wanted in home losses to Rice and Tulsa. Now Goo needs his Rainbow Wahine to use their heads.
"We want them to play smarter at times, make better decisions," Goo said. "A lot of that will come with experience. We're trying to get experience right away."
Goo will see tomorrow how much experience Hawaii (5-13, 3-6) gained from the first half of Western Athletic Conference play. Hawaii closes out a three-game homestand against San Jose State. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Spartans (12-6, 4-5) spanked the Wahine earlier this season in San Jose in a 73-45 win. San Jose State destroyed Hawaii from 3-point land, connecting on 8 of 16 from long range in the second half en route to 12 3-pointers in the game. Hawaii didn't help its own cause much last time, managing just 14 points in the first half.
The Rainbow Wahine defense has improved and their offense has gotten a lift from freshman Janevia Taylor, who has averaged 15.8 points in the last five games. But victories have still been elusive.
San Jose State understands.
Much has changed for the Spartans since the last time these teams met. After winning eight straight during one stretch of the season, San Jose State has dropped its last three games. The Spartans left California with back-to-back home losses against Tulsa and Rice.
San Jose State lost the services of junior Chenne Tuimoloau for the season for academic reasons. The 5-foot-9 guard played in all 16 games before sitting out. Tuimoloau lit up Hawaii with a career-high six 3-pointers last time and her spark off the bench is missed.
But senior Cricket Williams is still a major pest. The All-WAC point guard ranks third in the nation in steals (3.7 per game), fourth in assists (7.7) and leads the Spartans' scoring with 14.1 points per game.
Williams also has plenty of help from senior fraternal twins Tatiana and Teoma Taylor. The Taylors are a dangerous inside presence, accounting for a third of the Spartans' points and rebounds this season. Tatiana Taylor averages 13.6 points per game and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds a game. Teoma Taylor's numbers are nearly as nice with 9.3 points and 6.1 rebounds.
"(San Jose State) is so physical on the inside. Really, really physical," Goo said. "We're going to have to battle with them on the inside."
Hawaii leads the series 32-7 and has lost only once at home to San Jose State. Preserving that record will be difficult. But Goo is more concerned with the morale of his team. Hawaii is hoping to avoid another three-game skid.
"When you're not on a win streak, it's easy to get down, but that's where these kids have to be resilient," Goo said. "They've been very good at that (bouncing back). The tunnel is still a long way and there's still light at the end of the tunnel, so they just go at it every game. They're young, wet behind the years, but still going."
That light may be flickering soon.
The Rainbow Wahine still have a chance to finish the season at .500, but it's a long shot with away games at Louisiana Tech and Rice. Hawaii needs to bounce back in the second half of WAC play to avoid the dreaded play-in games at the conference tournament in Fresno.