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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 28, 2006

Toiaivao suspended for rest of the season

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer


WHO: Nevada at Hawai'i

WHEN: 7 tonight

WHERE: Stan Sheriff Center

ADMISSION: $7 adults; $5 senior citizens; free grades 4 through 12 and UH students


TV/RADIO: Live on K5 and 1420 AM

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The University of Hawai'i women's basketball team will continue without one of its top players, junior Alofa Toiaivao, who was suspended yesterday for the remainder of the season for violating team rules.

Hawai'i coach Jim Bolla made the announcement yesterday as Hawai'i (11-6, 2-4) prepared for tonight's game against visiting Western Athletic Conference foe Nevada (6-12, 2-4).

"You hate to do this as a coach," Bolla said of Toiaivao's suspension. "But I felt it was absolutely necessary."

Toiaivao, the team's starting center, was one of three UH players suspended following Saturday's loss at Fresno State, and sent back to Honolulu before Monday's loss at Boise State.

Toiaivao earlier this week said she violated the team's 11 p.m. curfew, and planned to apologize to the team. Toiaivao declined comment yesterday.

Bolla reinstated the two other players, sophomore reserve guard Saundra Cariaga and junior starting forward Pam Tambini, on Wednesday, but not Toiaivao, who has been disciplined by Bolla before.

Toiaivao, from Sandy, Utah, is considered one of the most dynamic and entertaining players on the Rainbow Wahine team, and her life-size photo hangs inside the Stan Sheriff Center along with other prominent UH athletes. Last season, Toiaivao led the WAC in blocks, averaging 2.5 per game.

Bolla said the school will honor Toiaivao's scholarship this season, and she will receive every academic opportunity given to student-athletes. However, Toiaivao can not participate in team activities, and has been assigned 30 hours of community service, Bolla said.

Starting UH guard Janevia Taylor said she was "devastated" when she learned of Toiaivao's suspension. Taylor is Toiaivao's roommate in Hawai'i, but did not room with Toiaivao at Fresno State.

"She's my friend, we do everything together," Taylor said. "So, hearing that she's not going to be on this team is weird for me. I'm so used to being around her. I hate seeing her depressed. Without basketball, 'Low' is not herself. So I'm sort of worried.

"I kind of look at it as decision-making. The coaches and administration "made their decision, she made hers, and it ended up like this."

Taylor said: "We're just letting her mellow out, think about some things." Toiaivao has not told Taylor of her future plans.

"She hasn't given me her decision on what she's going to do, but I'm hoping it's to stay here, finish up school, and come back next year, and be on the team," Taylor said.

Last season, Toiaivao considered returning to Utah to care for her diabetic father, Wayne, but the father told his daughter, not to worry, and to remain with Bolla, and to make him proud.

"I told her if you really want to help dad feel better, then do your best over there," the father said in a December 2004 interview. "Stay over there. Get your education and help your school and your team."

This season, Toiaivao appeared in 11 games with six starts and had been the team's leading scorer (13.5 points per game) and rebounder (8.5 rpg) through the first four WAC games.

UH has 10 regular season games and the WAC tournament remaining.

Reach Brandon Masuoka at bmasuoka@honoluluadvertiser.com.