By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawaiis Christen Roper casts an imposing shadow upon opponents.
Roper, a 6-foot-5 sophomore center from Ojai, Calif., is second in the nation in blocked shots with 3.1 per game. She is also second on the team with an average of 6.2 rebounds per game.
Ropers production is even more impressive considering she plays a little less than 15 minutes per game.
"She makes our opponents really think about what they have to do offensively because shes a big force on the inside," Hawaii coach Vince Goo said.
Roper and 6-4 senior Dainora Puida give Goo two tall post players. Two seasons ago, Goo didnt have a starter taller than 5-11.
"Were not used to having anything more than 6-1," said Goo of his past starting lineups. "Its good we have the luxury of changing the two."
Roper is expected to make her fourth consecutive start today when Hawaii (12-3, 3-1) plays host to San Jose State (9-7, 1-4) in a Western Athletic Conference game at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. A Wahine Alumnae vs. Alumnae exhibition will precede the game at 3 p.m.
The Spartans are led by a trio of small guards. Atari Parker (5-9, junior, 17.3 points per game), Danada Smith (5-8, junior, 16.7 ppg) and Cricket Williams (5-7, freshman, 11.9 ppg) have accounted for 65 percent of San Jose States points.
In the Spartans victory over Tulsa on Jan. 14, Smith tied a school record by scoring 20 points or more in six consecutive games. She has averaged 23.8 points during the streak.
"We know they have three outstanding guards, so theyre a perimeter-oriented team," Goo said. "Offensively, theyre a lot better than they were last year. They can score a bunch of points real quickly so we may have to switch defenses on them."
Hawaii will be led by seniors Kylie Galloway (6-0, 17.3 ppg) and guard Crystal Lee (5-11, 15.0 ppg). Galloway (formerly Kylie Page) started her college career at San Jose State during the 1995-96 season.
The Wahine are coming off road victories over Texas-El Paso and Tulsa.
"Our confidence level is high coming off of two road wins," Goo said. "We competed hard for 80 minutes on the last road trip."
OVER AND BACK: Hawaii leads the series with the Spartans 28-4. ... San Jose State was picked to finish last in the WAC preseason coaches poll; Hawaii was picked second. ... Individuals who donate two canned goods will be admitted free to todays games. ... Christen Roper is the tallest player in Vince Goos 14-year coaching career at Hawaii. ... No player in WAC history has averaged more than three blocks per game. ... UH freshman Mel Croser has left the team and returned home to Australia. ... Players participating in the Alumnae game include BJ Itoman, Jenny Kaeo, Lynette Liu, Jeanne Wade and Kaui Wakita.
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