By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hopefully, the Western Athletic Conference womens opener was not a harbinger of hoops to come. What happens at the Stan Sheriff Center this weekend could be.
Texas-El Paso and San Jose State two of the WACs worst tipped the league off Tuesday. The Spartans, who have won more games this season than the last two combined, lost by three to validate a preseason schedule ranked as one of the countrys weakest.
| Western Athletic Conference womens basketball at Stan Sheriff Center
Tonight: HAWAII (9-2) vs. Texas Christian (8-4), 7 p.m.; Sunday: HAWAII vs. Southern Methodist (5-6), 5 p.m.
Tickets: Lower level-$8 and $6 (Super Rooter UH student). Upper level-$6 general, $5 senior citizens (65-older), $4 students. UH Ticket Office (956-4482) open 8-4 Mon.-Fri. and 2 hours before games. Also available at Ticket Plus outlets (526-4400). Parking $3.
TV/radio: KFVE (5) and KCCN (1420 AM) will broadcast both games.
In contrast, the teams picked to finish 1-2-3 in the WAC preseason poll will be at the University of Hawaii tonight and Sunday.
The Wahine (9-2), picked second, open against Texas Christian (8-4) tonight at 7. They play preseason favorite Southern Methodist (5-6) Sunday at 5. Every game this weekend, UH coach Vince Goo figures, "is pretty close to a must."
The WAC separated itself into haves and have-nots by the end of 2000, if you believe power ratings. That is all there is to go by. No WAC team is mentioned in either national poll and the conference is 0-9 against ranked teams.
The WAC is rated 13th among 31 conferences at Collegerpi.com, which updates its power ratings daily. Yesterday, Rice (37), Hawaii (51), Texas Christian (72), Southern Methodist (98) and Nevada (99) were in the Top 100. Tulsa, San Jose State, Fresno State and Texas-El Paso were not close.
The Owls won the WAC Tournament last March and advanced to the NCAAs second round. They played the WACs toughest preseason schedule and have the humility to prove it. Rice was 0-3 against ranked teams, including an 80-40 blitz at Notre Dame Sunday.
The Wahine come into the conference with a five-game winning streak, but have yet to play a ranked team or a road game. They won three of four preseason tournaments and are coming off a Paradise Classic championship where they outscored opponents 88-62.
"Offensively, weve got a better outside game than we had earlier in the year," Goo said. "Weve got a better inside game than we had earlier. And, weve got better people coming off the bench than we thought we had. We came out of this tournament with a lot more proven depth."
Hawaii leads the conference in offense, defense, scoring, shooting and scoring margin, but the strength of its preseason schedule wasnt even among Collegerpi.coms Top 100. That wasnt the case with Texas Christian.
The Horned Frogs losses have come against No. 2 Tennessee, North Texas, No. 12 Texas and Arkansas. In a victory at Wichita State, TCU was 15-of-23 from beyond the arc and it averages nearly eight 3-pointers a game.
The Frogs most persistent bomber is Jill Sutton, third all-time in WAC 3-pointers. But junior transfer Kati Safaritova, who played with Wahine Dainora Puida and Janka Gabrielova at Weatherford (Texas) College, leads TCU in scoring (11.2 points per game).
Goo calls Texas Christian the conferences deepest team, and its deep threat has him worried. "Everybody that plays on the perimeter puts the 3-pointer up," Goo said. "Even the 4 and 5 (power forward and center) players occasionally."
Southern Methodists preseason schedule ranked among the Top 50, but the Mustangs did not. They lost to all three ranked opponents including Utah, which held the Mustangs to 40 points its lowest total in 19 years and 23 percent shooting.
All-American guard D-dra Rucker leads the Mustangs at more than 13 points a game and 6-foot-2 center Katie Remke averages nearly a double-double, but SMU is shooting a league-worst .348 and allowing a league-worst 72 points.
Goo shrugs that off.
"You cant look at numbers now," he said. "You cant take our offensive averages and compare it to someone elses because were not playing the same people. All thats out the window. It will only make a difference now."
OVER AND BACK: The Wahine will debut new uniforms against TCU, and seven players will change numbers. ... Kylie Galloway leads the WAC in scoring, at 19.5 points a game.
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