Silverswords ‘Play Tall’ In Women’s Hoops
First-year head women’s basketball coach Bobby Keanini knows his Chaminade team isn’t going to overwhelm opponents with size, but the team is playing tall as it gets better, one day at a time.
“I think we may be the smallest team in the nation — at least it seems like it,” said Keanini, who comes to CUH after a highly successful run at Roosevelt High,“but I like our improvement — our weekly improvement. The kids are buying into the program and a new style of play. It’s also a new level of play for them and for me.”
They also are youthful. The starting lineup consisting of two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. Indeed, CUH’s 15-player roster has only two seniors on it — Kimberly Kishi ( British Columbia) and Demyla Rodriguez (Whittier, CA).
CUH won only one game in 2009-10 (against 23 losses), so Keanini is starting at ground zero. The good news is he’s been able to attract some good local talent, most notably Pearl City High graduates Jordan Ahakuelo and Markeshia Manning. Both players will be in the starting line-up when they return to action at 2 p.m. Saturday at home against UH-Hilo at McCabe gym.
Ahakuelo was OIA Red West Player of the Year after leading the Chargers to the title. Manning provided the inside presence to that team.
“It was a great surprise for us to have Jordan come to Chaminade,” Keanini said. “She’s played a lot of basketball and comes in with some basketball IQ. She’s having to adjust to a new style of play, but she has a lot of athleticism. She can run and jump.”
Manning is 5-foot-9, but plays bigger than her height. “She’s been a nice surprise. She’s physical, and we’re seeing improvement from her every day.”
Also in the fold are former Kalani standout Jamie Higa and Kristen Canencia, who was ILH Division II Player of the Year two years ago at Maryknoll. Both are sophomores.
“If I had to pick an MVP right now, it would be Kristen,” Keanini said.“I like her decision-making and what she gives us for someone 5 feet (tall). She and Jamie both understand the physicality it takes to play at this level, and they both just want to learn more basketball. That’s great to see.”
The team currently is without junior forward Kellene Costello (Wixom, MI), who injured a knee a few weeks back. Her status will be re-evaluated soon.
As at Roosevelt, Keanini is implementing an up-tempo system, and he likes his team’s progress as far as putting it into play.
“Our young ladies are learning fast, and it’s been exciting,” he said. “As I told them, we’re not the most gifted team, but if we can play with some basketball IQ and hang around, we can give ourselves a chance to win.”
Chaminade’s PacWest Conference opener is Jan. 6 against Notre Dame de Namur University at McCabe gym.