UH trying to
break from pack

One-third of the way into the Western Athletic Conference's schedule the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine find themselves in a group of six teams in the middle of the standings with records of either 3-2 or 2-3.

UTEP at Hawaii

When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE, Channel 5
Radio: Live, KKEA, 1420-AM

The Wahine (6-6 overall, 2-3 WAC) have a chance to put their conference record into positive territory with home games this week against Texas-El Paso (8-7, 3-2) tomorrow and Boise State (6-8, 1-4) on Saturday.

Neither visitor has enjoyed much success on the road. The Miners are 2-5, but recorded wins over Nevada and Fresno State at home last week. The Broncos, who play San Jose State on their way to Hawaii, are 1-6 on the road.

UTEP shot a season-high 49 percent in the FSU victory.

With Hawaii head coach Jim Bolla staying on the mainland to recruit until his return last night, one of UH associate coach Pat Charity's priorities has been the Wahine defense. In the first two practices this week, one emphasis was working with the front-row players on how to defend successfully without fouling.

Brittany Grice, Alofa Toiaivao and Jade Abele all have missed considerable minutes after getting into foul trouble.

Grice and Toiaivao both were in serious first-half foul trouble against Louisiana Tech last Saturday with four and three fouls, respectively, at the half. Abele has drawn two quick, first-half fouls in three games and had to sit for 10 or more minutes before halftime.

When that happens, Hawaii loses a lot of firepower on offense and an intimidating factor at the other end. Those players also tend to play softer defense when they return, allowing opponents to penetrate toward the basket more easily.

Grice has fouled out once, Toiaivao three times. On the positive side, Toiaivao has blocked 31 shots and Grice 24, good for second and fifth, respectively, in the WAC.

Bolla also was concerned about the Wahine not rotating well in the San Jose State and Louisiana Tech games.

"When you don't rotate in our defense, you can't trap and you can't cover the passing lanes on the other side," said Bolla. "We were reaching in and people went by us. We weren't moving our feet and our transition defense really hurt us."

UH should match up well with UTEP's starting five. Coach Keitha Green starts two players six-foot-plus -- 6-1 forward Charnette Phelps, who leads the Miners in scoring with 10.1 points per game, and 6-6 Marta Dydak, next with 9.9 points a game.

The other starters average eight points per game or better. Green relies on an eight-player rotation. With the exception of forward Angie McGee, who averages 34 minutes a game, the rest of the rotation plays a little more than a half.

Offensively, the Wahine have three players averaging in double figures, Abele (12.8), Janevia Taylor (12.1) and Toiaivao (10.2). They also are the top rebounders, pulling down 6.0, 7.4 and 7.1 a game, respectively.

Hawaii leads the all-time series with the Miners 13-1 and are 6-0 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

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