Since taking the Hawaii job prior to the 2012-13 season, Rainbow Wahine basketball coach Laura Beeman has earned the reputation amongst the local media as a forthright, solid interview.
Her hour on KKEA 1420-AM Tuesday night with Wahine play-by-play man Dave Kawada for the “Call the Coach Show” might have been some of her best Q&A in the islands to date.
While on the stage at the Rumours Night Club at the Ala Moana Hotel, Beeman fielded a wide range of personnel and philosophical questions heading into the 2014-15 campaign.
Perhaps the highlight came when Beeman was asked about the soon-to-be-released Big West preseason media poll. UH finished in a tie for second in 2012-13 and in third place in 2013-14. Cal State Northridge, which returns basically its entire squad from its BWC championship team, is expected to be the favorite again this year … on paper.
“I think we have a really good shot of being in the top 1 or 2, maybe not by the vote, but by the end of the season,” Beeman said. “It’s not pressure. I’m not playing for third place.”
The Rainbow Wahine Green & White scrimmage tip-off event for fans is Sunday after UH volleyball.
Here’s some highlights of material covered and Beeman’s responses. Questions were mostly from Kawada, with a handful provided by callers.
On PG/SG/SF/PF Destiny King:
Hook, line, sinker, she is a vocal leader on the floor right now. … Right now she is leading the charge in that point guard capacity.
On replacing departed all-conference PF Kamilah Jackson:
I think the scoring void we’ll be able to replace … where we’re going to miss Mia is absolutely on the boards. .. I don’t know if we’ll be able to find just one person to do what she did. It’s going to be gang rebounding at first this year.
You don’t try to replace players like Mia. You try to find players to offset the void a little bit.
On PF/C Shawlina Segovia, who had to sit out games last year:
I think the good thing, and the bad thing about Shaw is she wants to play games right now … this young lady wants to get on the floor and beat up on somebody.
The young lady knows how to win … what we have to do is get to want to practice a little more. … She’s looking ahead to the future.
We need her to be a little bit more of a banger.
Champing at the bit is a really good impression of her (mentality).
On new C Connie Morris:
She’s 6-4, very very talented, very coachable young lady. Gets up and down the floor very well for her size. … She definitely needs to be on the floor … keep working on the chemistry with her teammates. I think eventually she’ll be a real scoring threat for us.
She is just a wonderful young lady, great personality. … She’s going to be a fan favorite.
On new SG/SF Justice Toailoa:
A young lady who just has great ties here in Hawaii. Hard worker. She played post in high school, and she’s all of 5-9. She’s undersized. We have to get her on the perimeter. This year will be a good one for her to sit back and learn. … She’s a great teammate and she pushes people every day in practice.
On new SG/SF Sarah Toeaina:
That young lady has done a huge amount of work in the offseason. She’s always in the gym, getting extra shots up. … she’s coming in here to take someone’s position, and that’s what you want from a freshman. … Her family has history here in Hawaii. She’ll be fan favorite as well. … It’s exciting to see the growth she’s already had.
On new SG Jasmine Redmon:
We’re looking for her to be a real defensive stopper for us one day. … Be a bug out there on the court. … She’s a great kid and she’s funny. Great personality and will be that Sydney Haydel for us sooner than later.
On new SF/PF Dalayna Sampton:
She does not mind contact. Hits people, enjoys being hit. Lanky and flails all over you. Makes it difficult to post up. … Her learning curve has been great. She came in out of shape and didn’t realize what she was in store for. … We’re really working forward to what she’ll be able to do.
On her philosophy for recruiting local players:
We go out and we watch a lot of the high school games here, on all the neighbor islands here. First and foremost, we want to keep local kids home. What we’ve been running into lately … they want a mainland experience. There were a couple young ladies this year that we offered … and it’s hard to compete for a young lady that wants that kind of (mainland) experience.
We want to keep them home, we’re going to offer them. We’re beating down the doors to keep some young ladies home.
Overall the talent is getting better. When you’re in Hawaii you don’t have the level of experience you do on the mainland … you’re playing a lot of great, talented teams year-round (up there). That improves the level of play, if you will. That’s not a knock on here. But the mainland you have a huge population, more than here, so you have more players to choose from.
Help us keep (the local standouts) home. That’s the biggest thing right now.
On overcoming negative news about the UH athletic department in recruiting:
When you always see the negativity in the newspaper at times, it’s hard to combat that. (We have to) convince them the athletic department is moving in the right direction.
On overcoming the gap in quality of other programs’ facilities compared to those of UH:
It is (an impact). When you’re going after a young lady who’s looking at other mid-majors, you may not have the same competition as meals, facilities, some of those things. But when you’re going against lower-level Pac-12, WCC, they’re going to say, ‘OK there’s a difference.’
The (differences) are what they are. … if they come in and have a great experience with the coaches and the players, we can get past the experience with the facilities.
We led the Big West last year in attendance. That’s something we hang our hat on.
The biggest thing we can offer that other programs can’t is the experience … we’re a family.
Do I want better facilities? Of course. … everyone wants more. … As a staff, we’ve talked about, we know what the problems are. Let’s not dwell not he problems, but the solutions.
Let’s give them an experience that’s more memorable than the paint that’s falling off the wall. … ‘I like these guys.’ That’s hard to say no to.
On the current UH starting five:
We don’t have a starting five right now … I’m not dodging the question. I want competition on the court. The starting five we have today wouldn’t be the starting five we’d go into Colorado State with (for the season opener Nov. 14).
Right now I’d say Destiny is a little ahead of Morgan (Mason at point guard). … it’s the pace and tempo Destiny is giving us.
We want size, so I’d say Connie Morris would be in the starting lineup right now. Shawlina Segovia is another winner, but she’s gotta work hard. Ashleigh Karaitiana, Shawna Kuehu and either Morgan or Destiny. That’s what it is right now … Sarah Toeaina is biting on some people’s heels right now.
We have some different pieces and our starting lineup will not stay consistent. It comes (down) to injuries and competition on the floor. If you’re working hard, you’re going to get the nod.
It will vary. It will also change depending on who the opponent is.
On PG Morgan Mason:
I think she’ll (take command) again this year. Destiny’s just giving us a little bit of pace and she’s very vocal on the court. … Destiny might get the nod over Morgan today because of the vocal leadership … she’s capable also, she just has to do it.
Morgan is a winner. … you want her on the court. If we needed to go small, I would have no problem with Morgan/Destiny/Shawna/Ashleigh/Shaw out there.
Morgan’s going to do nothing but get better.
On the impending Big West preseason media poll:
I think (UH’s placement) could be 2, 3 or 4. I think (Cal State) Northridge will get the (top pick). … they bring back everybody from last season, and they have pieces they put into that returning group. If I was in the position they were in, I would want that as well.
I think we have a really good shot of being in the top 1 or 2, maybe not by the vote, but by the end of the season … It’s not pressure. I’m not playing for third place.
On the upcoming preseason schedule:
(In the Green & White scrimmage) we’re going to go 20 minutes real time, 20 minute running time. We need to get our girls used to media timeouts … that kind of thing.
Then we go into the Hilo exhibition (Oct. 29) … that’s always fun to bring them in and compete. Then we’re on the road at Colorado State (Nov. 14). … They’re bringing back a good mix of old and new. Then we hit Denver (Nov. 16), come back home and the schedule gets a little difficult at that point.
Tough tournaments but we’re going to be ready for it.
On her assistant coaches:
I’m really, really blessed to have fantastic assistant coaches. I probably have a different philosophy than a lot of head coaches … I think you are only as good as good as your assistant coaches. You bring people in who have strengths where you have weaknesses.
They know when I’m in one of those moods and they don’t take it personal and I love that. They all have huge responsibilities on the bench.
>> Beeman explained associate coach Mary Wooley coordinates offense in games, while Beeman heads defense. She will give the whiteboard to Wooley to draw up a play during key timeouts.
We all talk about substitutions, we all talk about defense. I talk to Alex (Delanian) and Dekita (Williams) about special situations. … The girls know that in timeouts, I’m going to say my peace … then Mary’s going to step in with the board. Alex, Dekita and (director of operations) Wendy Anae do what they do.
We have an outstanding coaching staff. I’m just lucky. They make me look good. I try to work hard to keep them happy. That would be the biggest thing that would concern me down the road, is someone’s going to come along and swoop them up.
I can’t give them enough credit. I can’t thank them enough. We win games, it’s because of those guys. It’s a football mentality (delegating responsibility). … That’s the way I like to run my program. I like coaching that way.
Let’s just win ballgames and call it a day.