It was no subs allowed at the Hawaii women’s basketball 2018-19 preseason Green and White scrimmage on Sunday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Ten healthy players meant those 10 were going the distance of two 10-minute periods of 5-on-5 action (plus an impromptu five-minute overtime period) in the first real look that fans had at this year’s Rainbow Wahine. Fifty or more diehards appeared to greet the team.
Seventh-year coach Laura Beeman said the quality of play was “a little rough … but I thought the effort was good.”
“We got through it. It was a little tough without subs, but I think everyone had fun and did what we had to do,” junior guard Courtney Middap said. “We still pushed the ball and got some fast breaks and stuff, but it was more kind of controlled and (we looked to) really execute.”
With All-Big West first-teamer Sarah Toeaina graduated and playing pro ball in England, and point guard Tia Kanoa one of the three Rainbow Wahine players sidelined with ailments — along with wing Amy Atwell and newcomer Myrrah Joseph — it was a chance for someone new to take a lead role on the floor.
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Sophomore center Lauren Rewers and Middap were among those with promising play in the White squad’s 30-18 win across the two 10-minute periods. The 6-foot-4 Rewers scored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, while the 5-10 Middap ran the point in Kanoa’s absence and scored eight points with an assist.
Two post players who were recently dropped from the roster, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard and Taylor Donohue, were in the arena to watch the scrimmage and support the team before going their separate ways. With the post rotation shortened — Clinch Hoycard was an up-and-comer during 2017-18 conference play — Rewers, an Idaho native, could have an outsized role this year.
“I don’t feel the pressure (to shoulder more),” Rewers said. “I think the coaches will put us in positions to succeed. … I think just working with each other, me and Kenna going back and forth in practice, and even Lahni and Leah (Salanoa), and Myrrah, I think we’ll be OK.”
Beeman said the biggest factor for Rewers’ growth as a player is confidence.
“Coach B has challenged me a little bit to be more aggressive as far as posting and burying people, making it easier for myself other than doing a go-to move by being able to also just catch it and go up with it,” Rewers said. “It puts less stress on me to think about what I have to do.”
Junior forward Kenna Woodfolk, who will likely be an offensive focal point this season along with Julissa Tago and Lahni Salanoa, led the Green team with 11 points and seven rebounds, albeit on 3-for-11 shooting from the floor.
Freshman Lamarria Johnson, a freshman out of Chicago, ran the point for the Green squad and had two assists and three turnovers.
Middap, an Australian previously known as just a spot-up shooter, showcased a couple of nice behind-the-back dribbles in transition and a nice defensive play — she ripped the ball out of the air on a Johnson shot from the short corner.
“I played a little bit (of point guard) during the Australia tour,” Middap said. “It’s kind of new for me, the last two years I didn’t really play point guard, but I’ve kind of been getting some good stuff off Tia, kind of helping me expand my role. I like it, so, yeah.”
With her newfound ball-handling ability, Middap has the look of a viable option to spell Kanoa when necessary. Last season, Kanoa was the only natural point guard.
“I think that right now, she’s doing so well at the point guard position, having her, Tia, Leah, Lamarria, we’ve got solid depth at that point guard position,” Beeman said. “We can also put Courtney at the 2. She sees the floor well, she can attack. So she’s really putting herself in position to be someone that we rely on offensively. She has to continue to work on her defense, but her length helps her, definitely.”
UH, which is coming off of consecutive 12-18 seasons, has a couple more weeks to fine-tune things before its Nov. 6 regular-season opener vs. Pepperdine at the Sheriff. There’s also the Nov. 1 exhibition against Hawaii Hilo.