POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 24, 2010
This time, Dana Takahara-Dias got the schedule she desired.
The Hawaii women's basketball team will again play big-name teams in Takahara-Dias' second season as head coach, with one slight difference -- those teams fly to the islands this year.
And if the Rainbow Wahine can hold together through a grueling stretch of five straight road games in the Western Athletic Conference portion of the schedule, things could play out in their favor. UH opens up WAC play at home on Jan. 6, and closes with a three-game homestand before the WAC tournament on March 9.
Top to bottom, it's a much more favorable slate. Including two December games on the Big Island, UH has 19 home games this season, up from 13 last year.
National power UCLA is one of two opponents UH will play in the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo on Dec. 19 and 21. Name programs Gonzaga and North Carolina are potential foes in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown on Nov. 26 to 28 at the Stan Sheriff Center. That tourney is the Wahine's first eight-team event since 2007.
"We want to get good teams here, so not only do we have a chance to play them, but our fans can see great basketball," Takahara-Dias said. "It was one of the areas we wanted to focus on, bring back the eight-team tournament and bring back great talent, too."
The holdup in the schedule release this year was due to some tinkering with the WAC segment. Last year's UH league schedule included such travel nightmares as Louisiana Tech to Boise State and Fresno State to New Mexico State. It made navigating the far-flung WAC even more of a dour proposition than usual.
It took a while this summer, but the WAC eventually dealt UH a better hand. The Wahine have only three WAC round trips to the mainland and back -- including two during the five-game road slate that lasts most of January.
"We just wanted to make sure we were very sensitive to our players and their instructional time," Takahara-Dias said. "Only three road trips is a great revision for us, so we're not on the road all the time."
UH plays preseason exhibitions with Chaminade (Nov. 4) and Brigham Young-Hawaii (Nov. 11) at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Wahine open the regular season vs. Cal State Northridge on Nov. 19 in the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic.
Senior shooting guard Leilani Galdones is not enrolled in school this year and will not play for the Wahine this season, Takahara-Dias said.
Galdones was the team's best perimeter threat with Megan Tinnin redshirting in 2009-10. The Kamehameha-Hawaii graduate averaged 7.9 points and made a team-best 37 3-pointers as a junior.
"We have high hopes that she will return to school and be part of our program again," Takahara-Dias said.