Posted Jan 16, 2004 19:51:29
Techsters Face Up and Down Hawaii Squad
HONOLULU, Hawaii - The biggest question heading into Louisiana Tech's contest Saturday night is which Hawaii basketball team will show up to face the 12th-ranked Lady Techsters.
Will it be the Rainbow Wahine squad that has lost games this year against opponents such as Lipscomb, Texas-Arlington, Fairfield and Nevada or the one that dismantled an SMU team Thursday night that entered the game tied for first place in the Western Athletic Conference standings?
"Hawaii is a very young team," said Tech head coach Kurt Budke. "They have two good wins in the conference at Fresno State and against SMU at home. They definitely grabbed my attention when they beat SMU by 17 points (Thursday night). Jade Abele is definitely one of the top 10 players in the conference and someone we will try to keep in check. Vince (Goo) does a great job every season. In years past he hasn't had to play this many freshman, but they are always dangerous, especially at home."
Hawaii (4-9, 2-2) has been as up and down as the New York Stock Exchange this season. Goo's squad returned only two starters off of last year's team, with its biggest loses coming on the interior in the graduation of 6-foot-5 inch center Christen Roper, 6-foot-2-inch forward Nastassja Allen and 6-foot-1-inch junior Kim Willoughby, who decided to concentrate entirely on volleyball.
Abele, a 6-foot-1-inch forward, ranks in the top five in the WAC in scoring at 16.6 points a game while senior guard April Atuaia also averages double figures for the Rainbow Wahine at 10.2 points a contest.
The Lady Techsters (11-2, 4-1 WAC) have won three straight games but haven't played as well as Budke and his coaching staff expect. The Techsters have lacked the killer instinct and mental toughness that it will take to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.
"Right now we are in a rut of playing to the level of our competition," Budke said. "I'm very confident that if we played a top five team in the country right now, we would play well. We have to take the attitude that we are playing a top five team every night."
The Techsters rank No. 3 in the country in scoring offense at 84.3 points per game and boast five players averaging double figures led by All-American candidate Trina Frierson at 17.3 points.
Tech leads the all-time series with Hawaii 11-0, including a 7-0 mark in games played in Honolulu.
Tipoff is set for 11 p.m. CST and the game can be heard on KXKZ-FM 107.5 and via the Internet at www.latechsports.com.