The 2017-18 preseason has been all about resisting attrition for the Rainbow Wahine basketball team.
That was on display Friday night, as UH put on its women’s Green and White intrasquad scrimmage at the Stan Sheriff Center and suited up only 11 players. That meant there was only one available substitute at any point during three eight-minute periods of 5-on-5 play.
“No. 1, I want to stay healthy. I think that’s what every coach wants in the preseason,” said UH coach Laura Beeman, whose team was picked to finish fourth in the Big West preseason polls this week. “with this group, we don’t have to coach a lot of attitude or effort. Fortunate that they play hard. So I want to see execution.
“Hard when you’re playing against each other, because you know what’s coming. But you still can have offensive reads and defensive reads.”
Players were mixed and matched between squads across the three scrimmage periods in front of a modest Sheriff crowd. Overall, forward Makenna Woodfolk led all Wahine with 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting, while guard Julissa Tago added 11 on 5-for-11. Preseason first-team all-BWC guard Sarah Toeaina chipped in seven on 3-for-7 shooting.
The Green squad won 38-32, with the 6-foot-2 sophomore Woodfolk contributing nine of her points on that side, including a swished 3-pointer.
“We’re able to show a little bit of our versatility,” Toeaina said beforehand. “A lot of our players can play different positions. We’re pretty excited to show them a little mixture of everything.”
Guards Tia Kanoa and Rachel Odumu, who are both eligible this year coming off redshirt transfer seasons (Arizona State and Monmouth, respectively), combined for 12 points. The Salanoa twins, Lahni and Leah, combined for nine.
UH was without guard Courtney Middap and forward/center Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard because of injuries. While Middap is near a return, the team expects to be without Hoycard for several weeks after she went down with a knee injury in practice this week.
“Unfortunately we’ve had a couple of really weird injuries,” Beeman said. “So we have yet to go full, and that’s kind of frustrating, because you’re always juggling. It is what it is and you can’t change what’s happened; you just have to make do.”
In addition, sophomore forward Keleah-Aiko Koloi is effectively done with the team for undisclosed personal reasons. She is not expected to return. Beeman declined comment on her.
Koloi, a Lahainaluna High product, averaged 3.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.9 minutes of 27 games last season.
Of playing with a reduced number of bodies in practices, Toeaina said: “It’s prepared us a little bit early for what any of the season might be. We get a lot of bumps and bruises on the road. … It shows we can handle those and allows other players to step up, although we do miss those girls who are out. It lets the younger girls know that we’ll still set a solid foundation.”
The Hoycard situation is tough because, as Beeman said, “We were hoping she could come in and if not start, then come off the bench, 6, 7 or 8. That’s obviously changed. Hopefully we get her back by conference (in January).”
That should mean an expanded role for 6-4 freshman center Lauren Rewers, who put together four points and five rebounds during the scrimmage.
UH plays a 5:30 p.m. exhibition Wednesday against Hawaii Hilo, a tune up for the regular-season opener Nov. 10 at Portland.