Thanksgiving weekend won’t be a holiday for the Rainbow Wahine basketball team.
Coming off a 2-0 showing in the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic, UH returns to the Stan Sheriff Center for a challenging three-day Rainbow Wahine Showdown starting today.
UH (2-2) annually schedules a high-powered field in an early-season tournament with South Carolina, Arizona State, Stanford and North Carolina among those making the trip in the last two years.
The ‘Bows open this weekend’s tournament against San Jose State (1-3) at 5:30 p.m. today with the UH men’s game against Troy to follow. UH faces Oregon (4-0) on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and close the weekend against No. 7 Mississippi State (4-0) at 4:30 on Sunday.
UH opened the home schedule with wins over Youngstown State and New Mexico State last weekend. Sophomore forward Lahni Salanoa suffered an ankle injury early in Sunday’s win over NMSU and UH coach Laura Beeman classified her status as “day to day.”
“But we will not rush her back,” Beeman said. “When she comes back on the floor she’s gotta be healthy and she’s gotta have some durability. If you rush kids back at this time of the season you won’t have them when you need them.”
Salanoa’s injury could push freshman Keleah-Aiko Koloi into the starting frontcourt alongside fellow freshman Makenna Woodfolk. Both had breakout performances last week when Koloi went 5-for-5 from the field against Youngstown State and Woodfolk scored nine points in the fourth quarter against NMSU. Freshman Julissa Tago started both games last week and averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in the wins.
“So it’s a very young staring lineup, but (Koloi’s) got the soft hands, she gets on the boards, she hits shots,” Beeman said. “We’ve tweaked our offense a little bit to go with the big lineup, but again I have confidence in what KK can do as well.”
Senior Briana Harris reprised her role of last season in bringing energy and scoring off the bench and leads UH at 11.8 points per game. Junior Sarah Toeaina is next at 9.3.
Here’s a look at the teams the Rainbow Wahine will face this weekend:
San Jose State (1-3) — Opened the season with a 66-55 loss to New Mexico State. … Point guard Dezz Ramos, a 5-7 senior, scored 38 points in a 99-96 overtime loss to Pacific and had 30 in a 75-64 win over Santa Clara on Sunday. Ramos is averaging 23.5 points coming into the tournament. … Jasmine Smith, a 6-foot senior, leads the Spartans with 8.8 rebounds per game and 8.8 points per game.
Beeman: “They’re kind of a run and gun team. Most of the time they’re shooting under 10 seconds (into) the shot clock. They’ll run anything from a switching man to a 1-2-2 or 3-2 matchup … They have a very prolific scorer in Desiree Ramos. She’s gonna score and we have to understand she’s gonna score. We just can’t let everybody else go off.”
Oregon (4-0) — Coming off an 88-55 blowout of No. 24 Michigan State on Tuesday. Led by as many as 44 in the home win. … Freshman guard Sabrina Ionescu leads the Ducks with 14.8 points per game. … Junior guard Lexi Bando is 10-for-14 from 3-point range and averages 10.3 points. … Ruthy Hebard, a 6-4 freshman, averages 11.8 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds. … Former UH point guard Mark Campbell (2001-03) is the Ducks’ associate coach. His 192 assists in 2002-03 ranks third in UH history.
Beeman: “They’re also a team that can get up and down the floor pretty quickly and shoot the ball well from 3. Real good recruiting class the last couple years and they just have a phenomenal coach. They’re always prepared with Kelly (Graves). He had such a great career at Gonzaga, he’s bringing that tradition to Oregon. It’ll be fun to see how that Mississippi State-Oregon game goes (today).”
No. 7 Mississippi State (4-0) — The Bulldogs are coming off a 79-68 home win over No. 8 Texas in their home opener on Sunday. … Junior guard Victoria Vivians, a first-team All-SEC pick last season, leads the team with 16.5 points per game. Morgan William follows at 12.3 and Roshunda Johnson is 9-for-15 from 3-point range coming off the bench. … Chinwe Okorie, a 6-5 senior, averages 6.5 rebounds per game with Teaira McCowan, a 6-7 sophomore, posting 8.0 points and 4.5 boards.
Beeman: “Completely different monster; 6-5, 6-7 inside. Their defense is a high-pressure defense, and not necessarily in the full court, just what they do in the halfcourt to try to turn you over. And then they just have the ability to pound the ball inside. Very disciplined on offense. … If they don’t have their first look, they’re going to pull it back out and run an offense. They’re No. 7 in the country for a reason. … Potentially they have a couple girls who are going to be in the top 10 of the WNBA draft. So the pace and physicality of that game is gonna be something these young ladies never never played against.”