2018-19 Rainbow Wahine basketball preview

The 2018-19 Rainbow Wahine held a final preseason practice Monday before their opener today against Pepperdine. / Photo by Brian McInnis

The Hawaii women’s basketball team hopes to reverse course beginning tonight against Pepperdine to launch the 2018-19 season.

UH, 12-18 the last two seasons, lost top scorer Sarah Toeaina but has its Nos. 2 through 9 scorers back. Here’s what ran in today’s print edition of the Star-Advertiser, as seventh-year coach Laura Beeman resolved her team would be better this season.

The Wahine are counting on versatility as a strong suit this season.

“We’ve got a lot of different lineups we can go with, a lot of different levels of athleticism and speed,” Beeman said. “We’ve got different levels of skill, and different skill-sets. So, if we want to go pressing, we have a lineup for that. If we want to go zone, we have a group for that. If we want to be more upbeat in transition, we can do that. We can mix and match some things.”

Here’s how UH’s 10 returnees scored last year, followed by a position grouping overview.
Julissa Tago, 9.4 ppg, 42.4 FG%, 34.2 3FG%, 90.0 FT%
Kenna Woodfolk, 8.9 ppg, 37.3 FG%, 34.8 3FG%, 72.5 FT%
Lahni Salanoa, 8.8 ppg, 39.6 FG%, 33.8 3FG%, 69.4 FT%
Tia Kanoa, 6.4 ppg, 30.9 FG%, 23.6 3FG%, 59.5 FT%
Amy Atwell, 4.3 ppg, 47.7 FG%, 28.1 3FG%, 69.2 FT%
Leah Salanoa, 3.2 ppg, 26.0 FG%, 22.7 3FG%, 70.4 FT%
Rachel Odumu, 3.1 ppg, 37.0 FG%, 00.0 3FG%, 67.4 FT%
Lauren Rewers, 2.4 ppg, 30.0 FG%, 00.0 3FG%, 57.9 FT%
Jadynn Alexander, 1.6 ppg, 52.2 FG%, 0.00 3FG%, 41.7 FT%
Courtney Middap, 0.5 ppg, 13.3 FG%, 8.3 3FG%, 1.000 FT%

Gains: #4 Savannah Reier, 5-7 Jr.; #22 Lamarria Johnson, 5-8 Fr.
Returns: #11 Tia Kanoa, 5-9 Sr.; #0 Julissa Tago, 5-9 Jr.; #1 Rachel Odumu, 5-9 Sr.; #2 Courtney Middap, 5-10 Jr.
Losses: None
Beeman: “Point guards, it’s really nice, right now we could go four-man rotation if we wanted to, with Courtney, Tia, Leah, Lamarria, and be very comfortable. Obviously Lamarria has the biggest learning curve of everybody, being a freshman, but being comfortable with any one of them playing the 1 position. What I think as a coaching staff we’re most excited about, is being able to put Tia at the 2 if we want. I think Tia will do very well off the ball; she’s good, and better, with her feet set and it allows her (to make) kick-outs, it allows her to come off ball screens a little differently. It takes the ball out of her hands all game long, so now she’s making decisions sometimes but she’s not making them the same way. Defensively, (that allows us to) also put her on a better offensive player and not have to worry about running her into the ground both offensively and defensively. Courtney’s ability to step up and play the 1, and do it with a lot of confidence and a lot of fluidity, has helped us a ton. You look at the off guard position, with Jadynn, Rachel, Sav (Savannah), J (Julissa), and you throw Leah in there, Courtney in there, maybe even a little dose of Tia. … I think with the depth we have in our guard spot, we’re in really, really good position to really mix things up and keep people fresh, keep their minds fresh.”

Gains: #5 Myrrah Joseph, 5-10 Fr.
Returns: #21 Lahni Salanoa, 5-11 Sr.; #12 Leah Salanoa, 5-10 Sr.; #25 Amy Atwell, 6-0 So.; #15 Jadynn Alexander, 5-10 So.
Losses: Sarah Toeaina (4 years)
Beeman: “Leah really gives us versatility in that tweener spot because she’s so good off the dribble. If you put a big on her, she can take that big off the drive. If they play off her, she can hit the 3. Amy, we’re going to see what she does; she’s been injured. We haven’t had a healthy Amy. Hopefully we can get her to rebound like we did with Courtney, because if we get that with Amy, Amy’s a special player. We just haven’t seen it. So, when you throw Myrrah, Leah, Lahni, Amy, a little bit of Makenna into that tweener (spot), we’ve got great depth there.”

Gains: None
Returns: #35 Kenna Woodfolk, 6-2 Sr.; #14 Lauren Rewers, 6-4 So.
Losses: Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard (1 year), Taylor Donohue (2 years)
Beeman: “(Woodfolk) is going to be an integral part of our team. Unfortunately with Mackenzie going home because of the injury and other things, we’re going to miss Mackenzie. It’s going to require Makenna at times to play some 5, although you can put Myrrah in that position a little bit. We’ll have Lauren Rewers, obviously, who will be able to fill that void. So, she is a huge part of our team. She has to stay within her lanes but also has to continue to grow as we grow as a team. Not try to do too much, but do enough. Really for Makenna, she’s got to defend for us, and she’s got to get boards for us. … Lauren Rewers, she’s a big body, and she’s lost a ton of weight and gained confidence. Those are two things as a coach I couldn’t be more excited about. Definitely we’re going to put her on the floor and she’s going to have to grow. She’s still a baby. It’s just her sophomore year. She’s going to have a learning curve. The thing about Lauren that I’m most impressed about is her mental toughness that has grown exponentially from last year to this year. So, now to get her on the court and say, ‘hey, if you can start by (getting us) 8 and 8 — eight points and eight boards,’ that would be huge for her and have the confidence continue to grow. It puts Makenna in a situation where we don’t have to put her at the 5. Myrrah can kind of float in and out for us and continue to work our depth.”