Kane provides assist for Gonzaga
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Fittingly, Gonzaga freshman Rachel Kane wants to be a civil engineer.
As a point guard for the Gonzaga women's basketball team, Kane is in charge of creating opportunities for her teammates. She is second on the team with 36 assists and has helped lead the Bulldogs (5-5) to a 43.5 shooting percentage.
"She makes everyone else around her better," Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves said.
Kane, a 2003 graduate of Punahou from Kane'ohe, has started six games and is averaging 29.5 minutes, 5.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
"She does a lot, I guess to put it best, in the words of my wife, she just loves it when Rachel has the ball in her hands, because she knows everything is going to be OK," Graves said.
"I am learning how to be a smarter player and lead the team," said Kane. "The coach is trying to get me to be more vocal. I'm trying to step up and lead the team as a freshman."
Three of Gonzaga's losses have come to teams in or near the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. It lost to then-No. 19 Utah, 88-64, then-No. 24 Oregon, 73-57, and Washington, 70-56.
"We have not played an easy schedule," Graves said. "She's really adapted to the college Division I game. She's done good against good competition, and I've been really pleased."
Graves said the 5-foot-7 Kane is the first pure point guard that he has recruited in at least five years.
"When I look at a point guard I look for athleticism, and she's a good athlete," he said. "But the second thing that really sold me on her is her court savvy. She has that sense that you just love in a point guard. She's thinking pass first, team offense first."
Kane, who is home for the holiday break, said one of the biggest adjustments in her transition to college ball has been learning to take care of the little things on the court.
"Players are all the good people from each state and league, so the game is one level higher," she said. "There isn't room for mistakes."
Graves said Kane "plays above her years. She doesn't make the typical freshman mistakes."
Kane, who was the Hawai'i Girls State Basketball Player of the Year last year, said that time management is another thing she has had to work on, trying to balance school and basketball.
"It's kind of hard because basketball takes up a lot of time," Kane said. "What ever free time I have I spend studying."
Kane said she also makes extra time to go into the gym to work on her shooting, something Graves said is a part of her personality.
"She's a fierce competitor," he said. "She doesn't like to lose."
Kane said that she has had to make many adjustments off the court as well.
She lives in the dorms, eats cafeteria food, which is "not too great, but I manage," and "wears lots of layers of clothes and walks fast to class" because of the 30-degree weather.
Before the weather turned cold, she said that her group of friends would go down to a lake and go inner tubing and water skiing.
"The lake is brown and green looking, and you can't see the bottom, so it is kind of sketchy, but it is fun," she said.
It's a big difference from the beaches in Hawai'i, especially Lanikai, where Kane used to frequent when she was home.
She said she is learning to be more responsible now that she is on her own. This includes doing her own laundry.
"I had to learn before I left," Kane said. "You just realize all the things you take for granted back home."
Reach Leila Wai at email@example.com or 535-2457.