Two Hawaii Players Earn Conference Honors

Stan Sheriff Center
Stan Sheriff Center
Tanya Smith
Tanya Smith
Amy Kotani
Amy Kotani

HONOLULU (KHNL/ K5) -- The regular season is done for the Rainbow Warrior and Wahine basketball teams and both are now getting ready for the WAC tournament. But not before a couple of Hawaii players earn all conference honors.

Senior guard Matt Gibson was named to all-WAC second team, and the all-WAC defensive team. He averaged 17 points, five assists, and nearly two steals a game -- that led the Bows in each category.

It's the second time Gibson earns conference honors. In 2005, he was named to the all-WAC newcomer team.

And Wahine forward Tanya Smith was also named all-WAC second team and all-WAC defensive team. The aussie led the Wahine with 12 points and nearly 12 rebounds per game. She's ranked second in the nation in rebounds.

It's the second consecutive year Smith earns all conference honors. Last season, she was named all-WAC first team.

Smith was one of the five seniors honored after Saturday night's Wahine loss to New Mexico State. It's not the way they wanted to go out, but still a good ending to five careers.

Covered in lei, each one of the five seniors feel like royalty.

"I'm a Hawaiian princess," said Smith.

The send-off for Tanya Smith, Shannon Nishi, Iwona Zagrobelna, Saundra Cariaga, and Amy Kotani.

"Kinda overwhelmed with everything," said Kotani. "Still hard to believe. It's just kinda sad."

"They're five good people, number one," said head coach Jim Bolla. "Really good students. and they've given us everything we asked for on a basketball court."

That's because they all feel it was an honor to wear the green and white -- representing Hawaii, no matter where you came from.

"It's a different feeling playing in front of your family and friends," said Kotani. "This is my home."

"It's weird, my freshman year, was like 'I'm going back to Hawaii," said Smith. "Second year 'I'm like going back to Hawaii.' Now, when I like go on the road, I'm like 'oh we're going home tomorrow.' I don't call it Hawaii anymore. I call it home."

So if this is home, then the fans are ohana.

"They mean everything," said Kotani. "They make us better than we are."

"This experience is amazing," said Smith. "This senior year has been one of the best years of my life, to date, so it's amazing. it's undescribable really."

The ride isn't over yet.

Wahine play New Mexico State on Wednesday in the opening round of the WAC tournament.

And the Bows play Boise State in the opening round of their tournament on Thursday.

That game, at 8 AM Hawaii time, will be live on K5 the home team.