Occasionally inspiring, ultimately disappointing.
That about summed up the 2010-11 season for the Hawaii women’s basketball team, which put together stretches of solid play from November to March — just not enough of them. UH finished 11-19 overall (5-11 in Western Athletic Conference play) and couldn’t get past New Mexico State in the WAC tournament opening round.
There were dramatic ups and downs for second-year coach Dana Takahara-Dias and five Wahine seniors. UH started the season 4-1, including wins over Oregon State and Mississippi, then struggled entering WAC play and went winless (0-8) through the first half of the league schedule. But by taking five of eight games during the second half of WAC, a lost season was salvaged and UH qualified for the WAC tournament as the seventh seed.
"We struggled at times; we really had a long road ahead of us," Takahara-Dias said. "I thought we put together something solid toward the tail end of the year. That was really gratifying for this crew, especially for such a senior-laden team."
At several points during the season, UH’s WAC-worst free-throw percentage of .613 and second-worst turnover average of 19.6 came back to bite the Wahine. Other times, they made up for it with their league-best 42.1 rebounds per game. That was due largely to the most important addition to the team, freshman double-double machine Kamilah Jackson.
The 5-foot-11 Jackson was the fourth-leading rebounder in the country with an 11.9 average, and combined with her team-best 11.9 scoring average, passed Judy Mosley for freshman records in double-doubles (13) and total boards (333). The best of several gaudy stat lines was her 31-point, 25-rebound performance in an early-season win over Cal State Bakersfield.
Jackson was named to the WAC All-Freshman team along with versatile wing Shawna Kuehu. High points also included record-breaking performances from UH’s outgoing co-captains.
Shooting guard Megan Tinnin shattered the Wahine career 3-point mark. After hitting 51 treys this season, the fifth-year senior finished with 167, easily burying Nani Cockett’s previous-record 128.
Point guard Keisha Kanekoa became the 16th 1,000-point scorer in team history and finished among the UH career top 10 in several categories, including scoring (seventh, 1,200 points), assists (third, 377), free-throw percentage (seventh, .783), minutes (fourth, 3,458) and games played (third, 117).
There is much to restock; UH bids farewell to more than a third of its team and about 45 percent of its scoring. The starting backcourt of Kanekoa and Tinnin must be replaced, along with backup point guard Mai Ayabe and reserve forwards Allie Patterson and Julita Bungaite.
Look for the 2011-12 offense to revolve more around the starting frontcourt of Jackson and senior-to-be Breanna Arbuckle, with strong contributions from Kuehu and defensive stopper Sydney Haydel.
Takahara-Dias was proud of the team’s work ethic and expects the nine returnees will remain in the islands over the summer and train together.
"That’s a nucleus that we can build upon," she said. "Mixed with some really fabulous freshmen and some solid returnees, and I think that will be interesting chemistry as we try to develop next year’s team. I like the idea of getting a whole bunch of new players in."
With the midseason addition of USC transfer and Hilo High alum Vicky Tagalicod and three fall signees, including Molokai forward Kalei Adolpho, Takahara-Dias has three scholarships left to hand out this spring. Guard in particular is a position of need as the April 13 signing day approaches.
WAHINE BANQUET SET
The Rainbow Wahine Basketball Banquet is set for April 10 in the Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Ballroom.
Cocktails begin at 5:30 p.m., with dinner and the program to follow at 6:45. Tickets are $85 per person for the general public and $30 for children.
RSVP by April 1 with Mel Nakao at 220-1585 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.