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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 29, 2006

D.One provides women summer league of their own

By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer

Former UH Rainbow Wahine Dainora Puida of the Kaya Builders defends against UNLV sophomore Caasi Nakasone of Lanakila.

REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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WHAT: D.One Women's Summer Basketball League playoffs

WHEN: Today

WHERE: Manoa Recreation Center

GAMES: Consolation: Kilakila vs. Hi Five, 6 p.m. Third place: Kaya Builders vs. Imua, 7 p.m. Championship: Lanakila vs. Commercial Electric, 8 p.m.

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Nani Cockett, one of the most prolific women's basketball players in University of Hawai'i history, knows you need more than a hoop, ball and friends aka pickup games to improve your game.

Throw in a reserved court, referees, game clock, 30-second shot clock and coaches on the sidelines, and things change.

Cockett, who scored 1,866 points for the Rainbow Wahine in 1994, '96 to '98, is president of D.One Women's Summer Basketball, which will wind up its inaugural season today at the Manoa Recreation Center.

"You can't beat the real games with referees running, and pickup games are what they are pickup games," Cockett said.

From mid-June, dozens of high school graduates have been competing twice a week in the D.One League.

Only high school graduates are eligible because of liability issues, according to Cockett.

Current Rainbow Wahine Brittany Grice, Amy Kotani, Amber Lee, Dalia Solia and Pam Tambini have participated.

Other former UH standouts in the league are Brittney Aiwohi, Melanie Azama, Kyla Evers, Michelle Gabriel, Dainora Puida and Ki'i Spencer-Vasconcellos.

Some players are sharpening their skills before heading to Mainland colleges.

Chelsie Kadota, a 2005 Roosevelt graduate, will play her sophomore year at Holy Names College in Oakland, Calif., this fall.

"In the offseason from college we don't have an opportunity to work on our game besides just working by ourselves," she said. "So this league helps us work on our game, up and down the court."

If not for the D.One League, Kadota said she'd "probably be shooting across the street from my house. Not really running up and down because there aren't many pickup games for girls."

Male basketball players in Hawai'i have had a league of their own, featuring high school and collegiate players, for the past 30 years.

"I think it's really good because all this time only the men had the NCAA Summer League, and (the D.one League) is a good competitive league and it's really fun," said Hennasea Tokumura, a 2006 Iolani School graduate who will attend the University of Utah in the fall. "It's really good to stay in shape during the offseason."

The league coincides with Hawai'i's four Division II colleges Brigham Young-Hawai'i, Chaminade, Hawai'i-Hilo and Hawai'i Pacific adding women's basketball to their athletic programs this year. The schools are members of the Pacific West Conference.

"That was a nice coincidence that they allowed the four Division II teams to come in," Cockett said. "That's what we actually wanted. To use this as a recruiting ground where players can get a scholarship to play. That was our goal to have more players have their education paid for."

Coaches from the Division II schools have attended games, according to Cockett and league vice president Nahaku Brown.

"I don't think there has been any contact with the players, but they have them in mind," Cockett said. "This is a good venue to have coaches, during their allowed period, to come and see potential players."

She added the four local colleges will likely have their players compete in the D.One League starting next summer.

Marche Gibbs, a 2005 graduate of Bishop McNamara High in Chicago, is looking to get back in the game. She said she took last year off after losing interest in basketball.

"Playing there I think they take (high school) basketball too serious," Gibbs said. "It wasn't fun at all; practice seven days a week, even on holidays you're practicing."

She said she's studying commercial aviation at Honolulu Community College, and playing in the D.One League. Gibbs added she'd be open to playing college basketball here.

Cockett is hoping the league can gain national recognition.

"We want this league to be one of the best leagues in the nation," she said. "We want (to get) players so that they can come to Hawai'i during the summer and play ball."

NOTE

D. One Basketball, Incorporated is looking for teams to play in a fall league, starting after Aug. 15. Games wll be played Saturday nights. For more information, call Nahaku Brown at 259-6377 or send email to d.onebasketball@hotmail.com

Reach Kyle Sakamoto at ksakamoto@honoluluadvertiser.com.