Nakama: Seniors deserve a fond farewell
HONOLULU — Due to a rare scheduling quirk, the University of Hawaii men’s and women’s basketball teams will both celebrate “Senior Night” this week, with the women playing host to UC Santa Barbara on Thursday and the men playing their home finale on Saturday vs. Cal State Fullerton.
Both games are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff, and both will be televised live statewide on OCSports.
For the Rainbow Wahine, it will be the final Stan Sheriff Center appearance for seniors Kamilah Jackson, Shawna-Lei Kuehu, Sydney Haydel, Pua Kailiawa and Diane Moore.
Jackson, a 5-foot-11 post, will go down as one of the greatest players in program history. She currently ranks fourth on UH’s all time list in scoring (1,538 points) and is second (behind Judy Mosley) in rebounds (1,167), rebounding average (10.5), offensive rebounds (439), defensive rebounds (728), free throws made (477) and attempted (681). Jackson also is among the program’s career leaders in scoring average (13.9, sixth), field goals made (522, sixth), 20-point games (17, tied for sixth), minutes per game (31.2, seventh) and field goals attempted (1,125, seventh).
At year’s end Jackson, an All-Big West Conference first team selection in 2013, will become only the second Rainbow Wahine (after Mosley) to lead the team in scoring and rebounding all four years of eligibility.
Kuehu, a 5-10 swing player, has capped off an up-and-down career with an outstanding senior campaign, averaging 10.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. She also leads the team with 22 blocked shots.
Kuehu, a 2008 Punahou School graduate from ‘Aiea, was a three-time Honolulu Advertiser All-State first team selection and two-time State Player of the Year. She entered UH in 2009 but suffered a season-ending knee injury early on and was granted a medical redshirt year.
Kuehu started 26 of 27 games as a redshirt freshman in 2010-11 and was named to the All-Western Athletic Conference Freshman Team, but missed almost her entire sophomore season while on maternity leave. She returned last season to average 8.4 points and 4.7 rebounds off the bench, earning the Big West’s Sixth Woman of the Year award. Kuehu ranks ninth in UH career blocked shots with 82 and counting.
Haydel, a 5-8 guard, became a part-time starter as a sophomore and earned Big West Defensive Player of the Year honors as a junior. This season, Haydel is averaging 6.1 ppg and leads the team with 27 steals. She also has earned All-Conference academic honors.
Kailiawa, a 6-2 senior post from Pahala and Ka‘u High School, transferred to UH in 2012 from Umpqua (Roseburg, Ore.) Community College and averaged eight minutes per game. This season, she has started nine games and is averaging 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game, to go with 10 blocked shots.
With Jackson sitting out last Thursday’s 82-71 home victory over Long Beach State, Kailiawa produced a career-high 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one block in 38 minutes.
Moore, a 5-10 forward, transferred from Diablo Valley (Pleasant Hill, Calif.) College in 2012 and was named the team’s top scholar-athlete as a junior. This season, she is averaging 2.7 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.
All five Rainbow Wahine seniors have contributed greatly to the program’s quick turnaround from a record of 11-19 in 2011-12 to 17-14 last year and 15-11 (9-5 Big West) so far this season.
Likewise, the three Rainbow Warrior seniors — Christian Standhardinger, Brandon Spearman and Davis Rozitis — have been crucial to UH’s 17-15 record last year and 19-9 (8-6 Big West) record so far this season.
Standhardinger, a 6-8 forward, is just the fourth player in UH men’s basketball history — after Tom Henderson, Anthony Carter and Reggie Cross — to score at least 1,000 points in a two-season career, and is just the 16th player overall to reach that milestone. He also set a school single-season record for free throw attempts (228), breaking a 44-year-old mark set by John Penebacker.
Standhardinger led the team in scoring in 2012-13 at 15.8 points per game and was named to the All-Big West first team. This season he also leads the team in scoring at 17.8 ppg and rebounding at 8.2 boards per game.
Spearman, a 6-4 swingman, averaged 9.6 ppg in 2012-13 and was second on the team in steals (29) and third in 3-point field goals (30) and assists (38). This season, he has started the past 25 straight games, averaging 11.3 points and 4.5 rebounds and being named to the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic All-Tournament Team.
Rozitis, a 7-foot center, played sparingly as a sophomore but made an impact off the bench in 2012-13, notching 20 blocked shots and being named the team’s Best Defensive Player. This season he is averaging 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game with 21 blocked shots, and again plays a key role in the Rainbow Warriors’ “Monster” full-court press and “Point Zone” halfcourt defense.
He also earned his bachelor’s degree and has garnered all-conference academic honors the past two seasons, and has represented all UH male athletes on a student council.
Each of the five Rainbow Wahine seniors and three Rainbow Warrior seniors have made an impact both on and off the court, and represent the best of what University of Hawaii athletics has to offer.
They’ve all done well for themselves, their program and their school, and they each deserve the proper sendoff they are sure to receive on Thursday and Saturday.
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