The Rainbow Wahine basketball team put the finishing touch on the season with its annual postseason banquet on Monday.
The festivities included the presentations of the team awards as voted upon by the players.
“I think any time you leave it in the hands of your players to elect your captains and to vote on the special team awards that we give out, I think that’s a real honor for any of these young ladies to receive one of those awards,” UH coach Laura Beeman said.
Here are this year’s recipients with a comment from Beeman:
Julissa Tago, freshman — Rookie of the Year
Named to the Big West All-Freshman team. … Started 28 games, averaged 5.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists with the ability to play point guard to small forward.
Beeman: “A young lady who, off and on the court, does it the right way. Great leadership. … Playing a lot of minutes and tying to learn things quickly and she did it with such a willingness and accepted her role just unbelievably in a mature way. Really proud of Julissa and really bright future.”
Lahni Salanoa, sophomore — Most Improved
Started 23 games at power forward after making 12 appearances in an injury-plagued freshman season. … Averaged 7.1 points and 4.2 rebounds. … Hit four 3-pointers in three games.
Beeman: “Lahni’s worked on her conditioning, she has done just great job of getting in the gym and working on different parts of her game. Being healthy has helped her and hopefully this will motivate Lahni to continue to work on other parts of her game and if we can have the same type of improvement from this year to next year she’s gong to once again have a great year be a real impact player for our team.”
Olivia Crawford, sophomore — Academic Excellence
Based on maintaining the highest cumulative grade point average, with consideration given to course load.
Beeman: “She’s going into criminal justice and has had a very, very difficult course load. Just stayed true to her major and is doing a great job. So I was really thrilled for her to get that award.”
Crawford — Defensive Award
Finished with 22 steals while often drawing the toughest assignment. … Second on the team with 30.5 minutes per game.
Beeman: “Every night Olivia had the best guard on the floor. She controlled our tempo defensively. … Her teammates did a good job of recognizing the effort she gave us all year long on the defensive side of the ball.”
Sarah Toeaina, Junior — Ah Chew Goo Most Valuable Team Player
All-Big West first-team selection. … Led the Rainbow Wahine with 13.5 points per game and averaged 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. … Started all 30 games and scored in double figures in 22, scoring a career-high 25 against Long Beach State in the regular-season finale. … Averaged a team-high 33.5 minutes per game.
Beeman: “What the Ah Chew Goo Award represents is just someone who has good character on and off the court and someone who works hard for her teammates. Sarah’s a good character kid, she’s worked incredibly hard all season long and she’s had to toe a very, very heavy line at times as a junior. I think her teammates wanted to recognize her sacrifice and recognize her efforts both on and off the court. I think Sarah was a great selection by the girls.”
While the banquet wrapped up the 2016-17 season, preparation for the next season is already under way.
The UH staff can work with players eight hours per week in the offseason — six on strength and conditioning and two in on-court work — until the week before final exams.
“We have them for another couple weeks and then they’re on their own and hopefully they’ll continue to work with our strength and conditioning, continue to get int eh gym on their own,” Beeman said.
“Our offseason has begun and it’s pivotal for them to do things on their own because we as coaches can’t. They need to recognize that if they wait until July or August, it’s going to be too late.”