The Hawaii women’s basketball team has endured a compelling overtime loss against Western Athletic Conference title contender Louisiana Tech worthy of comparisons to Homer’s The Iliad.
Now it’s time for The Odyssey, an epic stretch of five straight road games over the next two weeks covering more than half of the spread-out WAC.
Granted, Dana Takahara-Dias’ Rainbow Wahine (6-9, 0-2 WAC) get a brief break at home after playing at Idaho tomorrow and Boise State on Saturday. But after two days in the islands, it’s right back on the road for contests at San Jose State, Fresno State and Utah State.
The Wahine’s endurance and character will undoubtedly be tested, more so than in the heartbreaking 74-69 home loss to LaTech last Saturday.
"I think it’s going to be some winnable games, if we play like how we played against LaTech," senior point guard Keisha Kanekoa said. "We travel Monday through Sunday, we come back for two days of school, then we travel again. It’s going to be rough, but we’ve just got to stay mentally focused."
UH hasn’t won a WAC road game since Jan. 30, 2009, at Utah State. It went winless on the WAC road last season in Takahara-Dias’ first year as coach, but it should be noted there’s been some questionable scheduling doled out by the WAC office for the Wahine.
Western Athletic Conference
» Who: Hawaii (6-9, 0-2 WAC) at Idaho (8-6, 1-1)
» When: 4 p.m. tomorrow
» Where: Moscow, Idaho
» Radio: none
» Audio webcast/live stats: govandals.com
The team sure didn’t forget last year’s harrowing trips from Ruston, La., to Boise, Idaho, and hard-to-reach Moscow, Idaho, to Reno, Nev., with only a day to spare between games.
This year, no other WAC school faces five straight road games. Only San Jose State has four in a row; the other seven schools face no more than three straight. Was the WAC setting UH up for failure again?
If not for some protesting to the WAC about the first draft of the conference schedule this summer — which gave UH no time to return home between these five games — it would have been even worse, Takahara-Dias said.
"I know it’s a daunting task (making the schedule, but) they had us out on the road the entire time," Takahara-Dias said. "It took five other WAC schools to agree and change their schedules so we could actually break up our five-game road trip and come home (in between). We couldn’t live with the schedule that we had. It would have been very wrong of me to accept it without questioning. … We were able to tweak it so that it’s a little more palatable.
"They (the five other schools) could see it our way. They looked at it and said, ‘This would be very unfair.’ "
It still might be, but the second-year coach and her players were cheery at practice Monday before the team departed that night for Moscow, Idaho. The Wahine even capped off practice with a spirited game of dodgeball.
"In the back of our minds is the fact that we haven’t won a road game in I don’t know how long," senior co-captain Megan Tinnin said. "But I know with how well we did against LaTech, if we bring that onto the road, we should be fine. Once we get that one road (win) under our belt, we’ll be heading in an upward direction."
Twin sisters and former Punahou teammates Shawna Kuehu of UH and Shaena Kuehu of Idaho will not play against each other tomorrow. It would have been their first matchup in a real college game, but Shaena Kuehu has missed five straight games for medical reasons and will still be out for the UH game, an Idaho spokesperson said.