Tsukazaki takes his shot


POSTED: Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's not often high school boys basketball players in Hawaii make an impact at the collegiate level.

Tyler Tsukazaki is one of those rare exceptions.

Despite playing in the shadows of Punahou and Kamehameha and 'Iolani in high school, the 2006 Maryknoll graduate has taken his game to Lewis & Clark in Oregon and excelled.

Now a senior, Tsukazaki is one of a select few representing Hawaii in college basketball, and he's doing it at a high level.

“;I take some pride in it,”; Tsukazaki said. “;You always know where you come from and where your roots are and stuff, but everybody (in college) is from someplace different so you really don't think about it much.”;

Either way, Tsukazaki's rise from a high school standout to team captain at Lewis & Clark is an exceptional feat. The 5-foot-11 senior guard is coming off a 19-point outing against WIllamette (Ore.) on Tuesday in which he went 6-for-9 from 3-point range. He's fourth on the team in scoring, averaging a shade over eight points a game, and his hot shooting on Tuesday helped give the Pioneers a much-needed win.





        Lewis & Clark

Year: Senior


Height: 5-foot-11


Position: Guard


Alma Mater: Maryknoll '06


Favorite NBA player: Steve Nash


Favorite music: Hip-hop, Hawaiian


Biggest basketball memory: Finishing first in Northwest Conference his freshman year




“;We faced a lot of adversity in the preseason learning how to play with each other since we have a new team,”; Tsukazaki said. “;We're fourth in the conference right now and the top four make the playoffs so that's our first goal.

“;Once we (make the playoffs), I feel confident we will do well.”;

The Pioneers won the Northwest Conference regular-season title his freshman year, but lost in the conference tournament final and missed out on a chance to play in the NCAA Division III tournament.

Tsukazaki hasn't had a chance to get back to the title game since, but has taken a different approach to his senior season.

“;I'm still working hard and everything, but this year I've kind of taken a step back and tried to enjoy the season because I know this will be my last,”; he said.

He's relishing the opportunity to play after spending the majority of his first two seasons on the bench.

Playing behind an all-conference point guard, Tsukazaki said the first two years provided a great learning experience.

“;I was just a sponge learning everything I could,”; Tsukazaki said.

Now, as the starting point guard and team captain, Tsukazaki is playing a large part both on and off the court in trying to get the Pioneers back to the conference playoffs.

“;It's a big responsibility to make sure we're all on the same page going for the same goals and making sure everybody is staying on the right path,”; he said.

Tsukazaki will graduate in May with a psychology degree and plans to move to San Francisco to establish residency in hopes of making it into law school.

None of his future plans includes basketball, which he admits will be tough to give up once the season is over.

“;I've been playing basketball all my life,”; Tsukazaki said. “;I don't know how it's going to feel when there's nothing to train for.

“;That's what I'm going to miss the most. Being around my teammates, being part of a team, that's why I'm trying to take a step back and just enjoy this last season.”;


Teo-Nesheim and Alualu go bowling

Tyson Alualu (Saint Louis '05) will play in the Under Armour Senior Bowl on Jan. 30 in Mobile, Ala.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive lineman played in 52 games and started 40 in his Cal career, compiling 195 tackles, including 26 for loss, and 16 sacks. He was named first-team All-Pac-10 as a senior after making the second team as a junior.

The Senior Bowl will be televised on the NFL Network at 11 a.m.

A week earlier, the East-West Shrine Game will feature 2005 Hawaii Prep graduate Daniel Teo-Nesheim, who finished his career at Washington as the school's all-time sack leader with 30.

Teo-Nesheim started all 49 games in his UW career and was twice named second-team All-Pac-10.

His final game as a Husky came in a 42-10 win over California in which he had seven tackles, including 41/2 for loss, three sacks and two fumble recoveries.

That game will be shown at 10 a.m. on Jan. 23 on ESPN2.



Men's Basketball
» La Verne (Calif.) senior Matt Heyd (Baldwin '06) finished with 12 points, six rebounds and two steals in a 78-72 loss to Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) on Saturday.

» Linfield (Ore.) senior Cody Tesoro (Baldwin '05) poured in a game-high 21 points and added five rebounds and four steals in a 94-85 win over Willamette (Ore.) on Saturday to push the Wildcats to 4-0 in Northwest Conference play. Sophomore Taylor Mounts ('Iolani '08) went 7-for-7 from the free-throw line and had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Bearcats.

Women's Basketball
» Cal State Northridge junior Analee Viena-Lota (Kamehameha '07) had 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in a 91-71 loss to Cal State Bakersfield on Monday. Freshman Janelle Nomura (Punahou '09) added eight points and six assists and Violet Alama (Kalani '09) scored two points for the Matadors.

» UNLV sophomore Jamie Smith ('Iolani '08) had seven points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes before fouling out in a 63-54 loss to New Mexico on Saturday.

» Whitman (Wash.) senior Dawna Mello (Hilo '06) had four points, seven rebounds and two assists in a 71-70 loss to Pacific (Ore.) on Saturday. Freshmen Kristen Corrales (Kailua '08) and Ashley Jacobs (Kailua '09) did not play for the Boxers.

» Willamette (Ore.) junior forward Keilyn Fujioka ('Iolani '06) had nine points, four rebounds and an assist in a 61-40 loss to Lewis & Clark on Tuesday. Four days earlier, she had a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds in a 76-49 loss to Puget Sound (Wash.). Senior Natasha Ludwig (Waiakea '06) had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Loggers.

» Middlebury (Vt.) senior Alana Wall ('Iolani '06) had two points and four rebounds in a 70-47 win over Lyndon State on Sunday.

Women's Swimming
» UCLA junior Brittany Beauchan (Punahou '07) won both the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 2.53 seconds) and 200 breaststroke (2:13.95) in a dual-meet win over Kansas and Fresno State on Friday.

» USC freshman Christel Simms (Punahou '09) swam the final leg to help the Trojans win the 200 medley relay and finished second in the 100 free (51.44) and third in the 50 free (24.05) in a victory over UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.

Men's Volleyball
» USC junior setter Riley McKibbin (Punahou '07) had 52 assists and eight digs and junior outside hitter Tri Bourne (Academy of the Pacific '07) had 14 kills, nine digs and an ace in a four-set loss to Hawaii on Saturday.

» Brigham Young sophomore Futi Tavana (Kauai '05) had 11 kills, four digs and two aces in a four-set loss to Cal State Northridge on Friday.