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.


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