Wahine's achievements bode well for next year
By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer
Seniors Crystal Lee, Dainora Puida and Kylie Galloway will look back on this University of Hawai'i basketball season and smile. Their younger teammates will look forward, and smile wider.
The Wahine's victory in their National Women's Invitation Tournament opener was their first postseason victory in nearly a decade. It came three days after the pressures of raising a 20-month-old son, striving to graduate and providing an all-conference anchor for the team combined to convince Galloway to quit.
The UH captain left her name in the Top 10 of 11 career categories, and her team in shocked silence. No one in the 32-team WNIT had a better power rating, or bigger puka.
Hawai'i coped with Galloway's loss by beating the West Coast Conference's co-champion (Santa Clara) and outlasting Brigham Young in overtime, and Oklahoma State in the final minute.
From across the country, Tulsa coach Kathy McConnell-Miller contemplated the next Western Athletic Conference season and shuddered. "I'd hate to play them next year," Miller said, "because of all they're getting out of this season now."
That it ended in New Mexico's deafening Pit, with shots clanging off the front of the rim and Lee's spectacular season closing with her crying on the bench. All that mattered little last night.
Beyond their wondrous postseason run, the Wahine broke or tied a dozen school records and finished in the Top 25 nationally in four categories (field-goal percentage defense, scoring defense, free-throw accuracy and rebound margin).
They received three votes in the final poll and were 44th-best in the nation, according to College Basketball News' final power rating.
In his 14th year, coach Vince Goo won 20 games for the 10th time, and his first three postseason home games, which played to a bigger, more passionate crowd each night.
"The players have to feel good about the program," Goo said when it was finally over. "To get a program really off the ground, you need to host a postseason game, and we're finally doing that. It will carry over to next year."
That worries WAC coaches.
"I was very surprised when I heard Galloway quit," Miller said. "I think she is a great player just her presence. It didn't matter if she was scoring, passing, setting screens, keeping people off the boards. ... She is so smart, all the intangibles.
"It's strange how things work and how kids respond," Miller continued. "It's all in how you handle it. Kids respond to that. They moved on. When we lost our best player before the WAC Tournament, my biggest thing was, the ones who are still standing have got to pull together. It's us, we have to get it done. They took the same approach."
OVER AND BACK: The Ah Chew Goo Award, presented by the former UH men's coach who is Vince Goo's father is given to the player who attains basketball excellence through dedication, determination and perseverance. ... Christa Brossman is the first freshman to earn Most Inspirational. The award came by a vote of her teammates. ... Brossman had a 4.0 grade point average last fall ö her first collegiate semester. ... Former Wahine Aina Kohler, from Lahaina, is pitching for the Concordia University (Irvine, Calif.) softball team following an all-conference basketball season. Kohler led her NAIA team in scoring and rebounding, and set a record for blocks with 58.