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Monday, September 01, 2014         

FURTHER REVIEW


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King gives Wahine hoops a reason to be optimistic

By Dave Reardon

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We start with the obvious disclaimer. The opponent was Hawaii-Hilo. Division II. Significantly less-talented. Much smaller.

So the Division I big sisters from Manoa did what they were supposed to do Friday when the Wahine hoopsters took care of the visiting Vulcans by 25 points in a preseason exhibition.

Things get real in two weeks when the season starts at San Francisco. Then they get unreal when Stanford and national champion Baylor come to town the following weekend.

But going from the 40 minutes at the Stan Sheriff Center the other night, there are reasons for Wahine fans to be encouraged — and for folks who haven't gone to a UH women's game in a long time to consider investing two hours and a few bucks sometime this season. It might make you want to come back and see them again. I do.

One of those reasons is guard/forward Destiny King. Actually, because she's such a versatile player, she's more than one reason. The freshman from Long Beach Poly has got some game to match that great name, inside and outside.

King can shoot. She made 12 of her 13 shots, including all three 3-pointers and all five free throws. She even hit a halfcourt bomb to beat the halftime buzzer. She scored a game-high 22 points in 22 minutes.

King can post up. She is 5-foot-10 and far from frail. Her size and strength give her advantages around the basket and her coach many options.

King can run an offense. Though senior Monica DeAngelis is a true point guard and much more experienced, the Wahine were also in a good flow when King brought up the ball and set things up. Aggressive, but unselfish, she finished with three assists.

King can rebound. She grabbed six boards. That was second only 12 from Kamilah Martin, who is as much of a guaranteed double-double as when she was Kamilah Jackson before getting married in the offseason.

King can lead. She's learning, but it's obvious she's got basketball smarts and is usually in the right place at the right time, and that allows her to be demanding of teammates to do the same.

I like that she doesn't act like a freshman on the court but does off of it, deferring to veterans like Martin, and, of course, coach Laura Beeman. When I asked King if she ever worked on that halfcourt shot during practice lulls, she flashed a nervous smile and said, "No, not at all. Coach Beeman would kill us."

Beeman has had her eye on King for several years, and she was on her USC recruiting list before the former Trojans assistant took the UH job last spring.

"She's a very tough matchup," said Beeman, who has the happy dilemma of figuring out where and how to use such a versatile talent. "In the Big West they're going to struggle with her size and athleticism."

King said she gets her toughness and court sense from growing up with eight brothers. UH fans will get a close look at one of them, Keala, since he plays for Long Beach State.

It probably helped her versatility, too.

"Growing up I was more of a four (power forward), that was my main position," she said. "As I got to high school I played more positions."

She expects to evolve into more guard play, especially because she has serious pro basketball aspirations. It's part of why she followed Beeman to Hawaii.

"When I came on my visit I loved Coach Beeman's winning style. She's been under Michael Cooper (at USC and with the Los Angeles Sparks) and learned a lot of new defensive things. I felt she'd help me grow as a player and person. WNBA is one of my passions and I think she can help get me to the next level."

Until then, she looks like a player who can help the Wahine win some games, and eventually compete for championships and attract more paying fans. There will undoubtedly be growing pains, for King as well as Beeman's new team and program. But the first impression is good, even accounting for the level of the competition.

Reach Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com or 529-4783.





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King leads way as new Wahine crush UH-Hilo




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