The University of Hawaii women’s basketball season will open with homecoming week for a handful of Rainbow Wahine players.
UH released the 2017-18 Wahine basketball schedule on Wednesday and the season-opening road trip heads to the Pacific Northwest for matchups at Portland on Nov. 10 and Seattle on Nov. 12.
The front end of the trip will take sophomore guard Julissa Tago back to Oregon, where she was a standout at South Medford High School. The state of Washington is represented in each class on the Wahine roster, adding to the significance of the game at Seattle for senior Sarah Toeaina, junior Olivia Crawford, sophomore Makenna Woodfolk and freshman Jadynn Alexander.
“That’s one of the things you look at when you’re scheduling, to try to get these kids back home in front of family and friends,” UH coach Laura Beeman said. “Particularly the ones that don’t live in California.
“I think it’s really something they’re excited about. particularly Sarah, senior year, that we can bring her home is something that’s really fun.”
Toeaina expressed as much on Twitter when the schedule was announced.
🚨🚨Washington friends & family, after 4 years I will finally play a game in Seattle. Hope to see you on Nov. 12!!! #GoBows 🤙🏼
— Sarah Toeaina (@_SarahToe) August 17, 2017
Even further down the road, Beeman said the program will be fundraising for an international trip targeted for late summer or early fall of 2018 that will take the team’s three Australian players — Courtney Middap, Amy Atwell and Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard — back home.
This season’s nonconference schedule includes five teams coming off NCAA tournament appearances — Purdue, Montana State, Texas A&M, Oregon and defending Big West tournament champion Long Beach State. Texas A&M and Purdue reached the second round last March and Oregon advanced to the elite eight.
“You want them to see what we’re trying to be,” Beeman said. “You need to see what competition at that level is like and if that’s what you aspire to be, then we’ll be up close and personal.”
After the season-opening road trip, UH hosts two tournaments then have stand-alone games against Montana State and Idaho State before embarking on another trip in December to face three power-five teams. They play at Arizona on Dec. 17 and continue to Las Vegas for the Duel in the Desert to face Texas A&M on Dec. 20 and Oregon on Dec. 22.
Following a Dec. 30 home game with HPU, UH opens Big West play on the road at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 4 and defending BWC regular-season champion UC Davis on Jan. 6.
Unlike last year when UH played four of its first five conference games on the road and had four consecutive home games in February, the Wahine will alternate weeks at home and away for most of league play.
“We have a couple byes toward the end which may play in our favor a little bit just to recover some legs and add some different things if we want to,” Beeman said.
The Wahine make their public debut with the Green and White scrimmage on Oct. 27 and face UH Hilo in an exhibition game on Nov. 1.