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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 19, 2001

Wahine basketball team faces challenges of youth

 •  2001-2002 Wahine basketball roster

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

A year ago, University of Hawai'i Wahine basketball coach Vince Goo lamented his new team's inexperience. Semi-seriously, he wondered if his players would remember to remove their warmups before they went in games.

Janka Gabrielova is one of two returning seniors who are expected to lead the Wahine basketball team this season.

Advertiser library photo • March 24, 2001

It worked so well, he thought he would try it again.

Some 45,000 miles and 26 wins later, the Wahine's last season ended at spring break, in the WNIT semifinals.

Now, Goo says, "We're younger and less experienced."

Does that mean his streak of 20-win seasons is in jeopardy?

"You never know," Goo said.

Somehow, after eight postseason invitations and nearly 200 victories, it seems Goo might.

His most immediate challenge is to replace the 42 points and 19 rebounds last year's seniors contributed. Or, as Goo puts it, "22, 25 and 25," the ages of Crystal Lee, Dainora Puida and Kylie Galloway.

"That's a lot of experience we're replacing," said Goo, admitting he can't teach anyone to "be old." Maturity will be a challenge he will put to every player, from seniors Karena Greeny and Janka Gabrielova to freshmen Jade Abele, Milia Macfarlane and Chelsea Wagner.

"Everyone from the freshmen on up has to get to another maturity level," Goo said. "Be responsible for covering what we lack."

April Atuaia is a returning guard.

Milia Macfarlane is a new guard.

Christen Roper is a returning 6-foot-5 center.

Vince Goo has another young team to coach.

Advertiser library photos

The season unofficially opens Nov. 10 with an exhibition — the first since Goo started coaching — against New Zealand's national team. Hawai'i's returning starters, guards Gabrielova and April Atuaia, and 6-foot-5 center Christen Roper, are Goo's best guesses to start.

Gabrielova took her offensive game to another level last postseason, when it finally hurt opponents as much as her defense. Roper set a WAC record and was sixth in the country in blocks (2.82 per game) and Goo said she benefited from the first Pete Newell Tall Woman's Camp this summer. Kahuku graduate Atuaia was WAC Freshman of the Year, and is second among returning players in every meaningful statistic.

From there, it's pick a number.

Junior Natasja Allen is a backup center and candidate for the 4 (strong forward) spot. Abele is more comfortable at the 3 (wing) position, but more needed at the 4.

"Natasja is more physical inside," Goo said. "Jade gives us a little more quickness and ballhandling, perimeter scoring."

Greeny and Christa Brossman played lots last season and should play more now, with Wagner expected to help on the perimeter when she catches up defensively.

Basically everyone else has a shot at taking lots of shots, if they fit into Goo's ever-changing system, particularly on defense. The Wahine were fifth nationally in field goal percentage defense last year, holding teams to 35 percent shooting and below 60 points a game.

"Our success this year depends on how well they adapt," he said. "We did that pretty good last year, especially defensively. We adapted very well, focused, concentrated, carried out responsibilities. Hopefully they can do that this year."

A year ago, the Wahine had lost four seniors, including two-time WAC Player of the Year Raylene Howard. By the end of the season, the younger players made the age gap — in some cases as much as seven years — appear irrelevant.

"We found out if we work together, it doesn't matter — young, old, seniors, juniors, freshmen, anybody can step up and play," said Greeny, the team's only four-year senior. "Anyone can be a leader."

Everyone was, as the Wahine won their first three postseason home games in history, in increasingly dramatic fashion.

"Last year was indicative of each part makes up the whole," Goo said. "Everyone had a role. Sometimes you can have three, four good parts and it can cover for some weaker links. But last year everyone contributed. Now they know they can compete. If they go hard, they can win. They won a lot of games being behind late in the game. They had the will."

They will have to recapture it early because NCAA Tournament teams Penn State, Stanford and Baylor will be here before the end of the year.

When the WAC season starts, perennial final-four contender Louisiana Tech will be waiting. Its first season in the conference has everyone expecting to play for second, which is where the Wahine were picked in this preseason.

OVER AND BACK: The Nov. 10 exhibition game will be played at 1 p.m because the football team plays Boise State that night. Tania Brunton Tupu, the first Wahine basketball Olympian, is not expected to make the trip with her national team. ... Louisiana Tech, one of two teams to play in all 20 NCAA Tournaments, returns five starters. Five other WAC teams return four. ...ÊThe Wahine finished second in the conference the last two years. They were 57-17 their first five WAC seasons.

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University of Hawai'i Wahine 2001-2002 Basketball Schedule


    10: New Zealand national team (exhibition, 1 p.m.)
    17-18: Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort Classic (Saturday: Texas A&M vs. Portland State, 1 p.m.; Hawai'i vs. Washington State, 3. Sunday: Consolation 11 a.m., championship 1 p.m.)
    23-25: Asahi Rainbow Wahine Classic (Friday: Penn State vs. Florida Atlantic, 12:30 p.m.; Oklahoma State vs. Weber State, 2:40 p.m.; Stanford vs. Minnesota, 4:50 p.m.; Hawai'i vs. Wyoming, 7. Saturday: Games at 9 a.m., 11:10 a.m., 1:20 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Sunday: Seventh-place game, 11:30 a.m.; fifth, 1:40 p.m.; third, 3:50 p.m.; championship, 6 p.m.).


    7-9: Hawai'i Invitational (Friday: Baylor vs. Illinois-Chicago, 7 p.m.; Saturday: Hawai'i vs. Baylor, 7 p.m.; Sunday: Hawai'i vs. Illinois-Chicago, 5 p.m.)
    17-18: Ala Moana Hotel Paradise Classic (Monday: Cleveland State vs. Tennessee State, 6 p.m.; Hawai'i vs. North Carolina-Charlotte, 8 p.m. Tuesday: Third place, 6 p.m.; championship, 8 p.m.)
    28: *at Boise State
    30: *at UTEP


    5: *San Jose State
    11: *SMU
    13: *Louisiana Tech, 5 p.m. (alumnae game at 3 p.m.)
    17: *at Rice
    19: *at Tulsa
    24: *Nevada
    26: *Fresno State


    2: *at San Jose State
    7: *at Louisiana Tech
    9: *at SMU
    14: *Tulsa
    17: *Rice, 5 p.m.
    21: *at Fresno State
    24: *at Nevada
    28: *UTEP


    2: *Boise State.
    5-9: WAC Tournament at Tulsa, Okla.
    15-18: NCAA first and second rounds (sites TBA)
    23-25: NCAA West Regional at Boise, Idaho
    29-31: NCAA Final Four

* WAC game

All home games at Stan Sheriff Center, beginning at 7 p.m., unless noted

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