Kalani Simpson

Characters who
have character

THE old saying goes that character is what happens when nobody's watching.

These Rainbow Wahine, they have character.

Or maybe they are characters.

Janevia Taylor is quick. Jade Abele is deadly.

Amy Sanders plays defense like an escaped convict.

They run. They gun.

And last night, they opened their game against BYU at a 16-4 clip.

They have a new coach -- and this was first pointed out by someone more clever and faster on the draw than myself -- who looks like Spider-Man's boss.

(Bonus points: What is Spider-Man's boss' full name?)

Last night, he beat BYU 56-44 and his Wahine were champions of their Waikiki Beach Marriott Invitational tournament.

"Massive, Al!" Abele told our Al Chase in her good on'ya, no worries Aussie accent. "Massive win!"

There were 320 of you there to see it in person last night.

There was a lot of character going on in this game.

It was a tough time slot, 4 o'clock in the afternoon on a Christmas shopping Saturday.

"People have too many things to do and not enough time to get them done," Jim Bolla said. He's been in this business a long time, he understands. The new coach has seen this holiday slide year after year.

Yesterday, there were 889 tickets issued; 320 in the seats.

"It's better than playing in front of 20 people," said Abele, who scored 19 points and was named tournament MVP.

There are those who say the women's game suffers in comparison with the men's game. There are those who say the women's game suffers in comparison with a lot of things.

Last night's game had its share of shoddy shooting percentages, blown layups, uneven play.

"I thought we did a good job of confusing them (defensively) today," Bolla said.

"I think a lot of it is, it's so physical," he said.

"They contest every shot. Especially when you're in the paint, they're going to be on you," he said.

Everyone loves a pretty swish. But I say you don't judge the women's game on its shooting percentages. I say you watch the women's game for the same reasons you watch any game.

That old ABC Wide World of a cliché: thrill of victory, agony of defeat.

The privilege of watching players pour their hearts out, to fight with everything they have. Just because they want to win. Just because it would kill them to lose.

Watching a woman dive after a ball out of bounds is every bit as inspirational as watching a man do the same.

Grace under pressure. Frustration and elation. Emotion. Drama. Fight.


And characters.

"I was so tired in the clutch," Abele said with a laugh.

That's why we watch any sport.

That's why ESPN could show Australian Rules Football at 3 a.m.

And these Wahine would do all this even if no one were watching. They would play this hard, fight this fiercely, care this much even if the gym were empty.

We know this, because it almost is.

Bolla has an eye-popping winning percentage, but you have to think he was chosen as much for his salesmanship as for his X's and O's.

We'll see if he can take what's on that court and put it in people's hearts.

"It'll come," he said.

He's doing stuff with the military. He's heard from a judge who wants to put together something to get tickets for kids.

"It's not about me," he said. Personality doesn't hurt, but players sell tickets.

"I tell people, 'Come to one game. If you like what you see, come back and bring somebody with you,' " the coach said.

He said some have.

Not enough. Not last night.

What's going on while nobody is watching?


"You always want to impress all the people," Abele said. "The more people, the more impressive we become!"

Characters, too.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

E-mail to Sports Desk


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