Big West Champion Wahine basketball team returns to practice ahead of title defense
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The reigning Big West Conference Champion Rainbow Wahine basketball team was back on the court this week.
The mentality for the wahine, ‘back to work’, who held their first official team practices of the 2022-23 season.
A shared mentality for a squad that looks to replicate last year’s memorable run.
The Wahine’s historic campaign saw them go 20-9 overall with a regular season Big West title and a successful run in the conference tournament.
En route to a bid into the NCAA tournament.
“You want a memory at certain times and you absolutely don’t want it at the other times.” Head coach Laura Beeman told reporters. “I don’t want them to remember that we’re champions, I want them to play like we’re not, I want them to work like we’re not, but when the experience needed to win ball games comes in then I want them to remember that they’re champions.”
Last year’s season came to a close with an opening round loss to Baylor in the NCAA tournament.
Despite their early exit in the big dance, UH is still rated at the top in the Big West Conference, a position the players aren’t shying away from.
“It’s a target on our back.” UH guard Olivia Davies said. “We’re at the top now and have to make sure that we defend that.”
“It shows us that we need to continue to work hard, continue to push each other in practice and then we’re constantly elevating that level of competition.” UH forward Kallin Spiller said. “So we can take on these teams when they’re playing their best against us.”
On the court, the team will miss the presence of record setting guard Amy Atwell, who was drafted by the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
“You don’t replace Amy Atwell and it’s not just the points.” Coach Beeman said. “It’s more the gravity that she demanded on the court, she really gave us great spacing, so we’re going to have to find different ways to score.”
Looking to help fill the gap left by Atwell is Lily Wahinekapu, an ‘Iolani graduate who is returning home after playing for Cal State Fullerton last year where she was named Big West Freshman of the Year.
“It means a lot to me.” Wahinekapu said. “I feel like I want to represent my home state, my family, my team, it’s not just about me, it’s about everybody else I’m doing it for.”
The Wahine open the season on November 7th on the road against Oregon State.
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