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Alumnae game returns, then Wahine face Idaho

By Brian McInnis

LAST UPDATED: 1:36 a.m. HST, Feb 5, 2011

Tania Tupu's name might be different, but her intensity when it comes to anything basketball hasn't changed a bit.

The former Tania Brunton, a Hawaii Rainbow Wahine standout under Vince Goo in the mid 1990s, is among the 35 participants in today's Wahine alumnae game preceding UH's Western Athletic Conference matchup against Idaho at the Stan Sheriff Center.

"The girls I played with were so competitive, so hardworking that we never gave an inch for anything," said Tupu, the No. 5 Wahine player in career scoring average (14.5) who went on to play in two Olympics (2000 and 2004) for New Zealand. "If we bring that to our alumnae game, it's gonna be war." She laughed.


» Today at Stan Sheriff Center

» Alumnae game: 5 p.m.

» Idaho (12-8, 5-3 WAC) at Hawaii (7-15, 1-8), 7 p.m.

» TV: KFVE, Ch. 5. Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM

That the former UH guard flew with her husband from her native New Zealand for the game (and to promote her Tania Tupu line of jewelry to local businesses) underscores her competitiveness. She is looking forward to playing with former teammates Nani Cockett, Nani Flores and Tiffany Fujimoto.

"It'll be like old times," Tupu said.

This is the second alumnae game in this era of Wahine basketball, and will feature players and coaches of the oldest teams (the first Wahine coach, Patsy Dung, will lead one of the teams) to recent Manoa graduates.

Tupu, 37, falls in the middle. She knew little else but winning here -- UH went to NCAA tournaments in both of her active seasons -- but this year's Wahine (7-15, 1-8 WAC) got their first taste of victory of 2011 on Thursday over Boise State, 69-53. It was a much-needed lift to start the second half of WAC play.

Current UH coach Dana Takahara-Dias, clearly upbeat yesterday after the breakthrough, is a game-time decision. The former Wahine point guard (1984-88) was a brief participant last season.

"So far, 99 percent (chance), I can go," Takahara-Dias said. "It takes muscle memories from 16, 18, 19 years ago."

Besides the alumnae celebration, the Wahine also will wear pink as part of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's Pink Zone movement for breast cancer awareness. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game.

And, of course, the Wahine can notch consecutive wins for the first time since going 2-1 in the Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Invitational in December.

"It's such a big night for us for many reasons," Takahara-Dias said.

Third-place Idaho (12-8, 5-3) will be a tough out. Vandals coach Jon Newlee, a former UH assistant, has his team playing well with double-digit wins in three of its past four games. Idaho beat UH 72-48 in Moscow, Idaho, on Jan. 13, but the Wahine are feeling revived after snapping out of a dismal 0-8 start in the WAC that cast them into last place.

"We know we haven't played to our potential, and the other night we saw how we can play, and we proved to people how we can play," said senior guard Megan Tinnin, one of three Wahine to score in double figures against the Broncos. "We're excited."

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