Arbuckle drives foes batty in WAC play
by Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
In the moment, Breanna Arbuckle can emulate her favorite superhero.
Nicknamed "Batty" and "Bat" for her affinity for Batman, the Rainbow Wahine basketball team's athletic and undersized starting forward has speedy footwork allowing her to elude bigger and taller post players and an ability to hang in the air while going for layups.
"Probably in the zone, his gliding ability," Arbuckle said, when asked if she had Batman-like moves on the court. "People tell me I have a good hang time."
Arbuckle, a 6-foot sophomore from Chandler, Ariz., gives up height and size in the post, but her footwork and versatility have helped her emerge as a key player for Hawai'i. In Western Athletic Conference play, Arbuckle leads the Rainbow Wahine with averages of 11 points and five rebounds per game.
Hawai'i (8-12, 2-5) hosts San Jose State (5-13, 1-4) in a key game tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center. The league's ninth-place team won't qualify for the eight-team WAC Tournament in March. The 'Bows are currently eighth and the Spartans ninth.
"We play her in many areas in the high, low, short corner," UH coach Dana Takahara-Dias said. "Now she's opening up her repertoire to face the basket. We got her playing in a more expanded role because we notice her athleticism to do so.
"She gives up quite a bit of inches and poundage, she's very thin, and she can get away with it because of her quickness."
Arbuckle scored a career-high 18 points in the Rainbow Wahine's win over Idaho two weeks ago. She had two key steals late in the game in last Monday's win over Utah State, finishing with 11 points and four steals. Takahara said Arbuckle's emergence as a key offensive player during league play has been the result of going against tougher and bigger players during the nonconference season.
"It was a challenge because I had to use more moves like footspeed because some of them were slower than me," Arbuckle said. "I had to work on my post moves."
Arbuckle said she has picked up some old school post moves and some from the WNBA, like going up and under defenders. Her mother Brenda, a former post player at Oregon State and also her high school coach, has also been a big influence. They talk on the phone before and after each game, and Brenda has made it to Hawai'i's road games.
"She just taught me to take my time, look, check behind me and really just focus on what you're doing right there," Arbuckle said. "But also while you're focusing, make sure to look around to see if anybody else is open.
"When I draw the attention, it just opens a lot of my teammates up."
When Arbuckle first met her teammates, she was decked in Batman gear, from shirt to belt buckle, and she's accumulated Batman items from friends and her mother like earrings and necklaces.
Arbuckle hopes the team reaches the WAC Tournament in March. To do so, Takahara said all players will need to raise their levels of intensity.
"You take a look at the minutes Breanna plays, she plays quite a bit of minutes for us and that's due to injuries we sustained over the course of the season," Takahara said. "We'd like her to play both ends of the floor.
"She can score, she has very beautiful post moves, she has great jumpers ... and she's great in the open court. If you take a look at her weapons, we'd like to see intensity in all areas."