By Brian McInnis
Hawaii women's basketball coach Laura Beeman was gracious with some of her time to answer some general questions on Saturday in the midst of her Rainbow Wahine basketball camp.
Nothing has yet been resolved on a new contract for her following the team's 17-14 successful campaign, but both parties (Beeman and UH) seem comfortable with a deliberate pace on this one.
"I'm just kind of waiting to see what's going to happen, if there's going to be any moving and shaking, or if it's going to stay as is," Beeman said. "Like I said earlier, my No. 1 push is for my assistant coaches. After that, we'll see where I am. Right now, I'm really not focused on that."
She recently hired Alex Delanian from USC to be her new director of basketball operations.
On the recruiting front, Beeman said her one open scholarship for the 2013-14 season has become two with freshman forward Brianna Higgins' decision not to return next season in favor of another school, likely in California (corrected that she is from Cali; Higgins hails from Nevada).
This makes sense on both ends. The young Higgins saw the most minimal of court time (one game, four minutes played) last year and didn't figure to be in the playing rotation going forward, barring a drastic shakeup.
"She was homesick, and felt it would be better where she could be a little closer to home. Get a little bit more playing time, and I completely supported her in that," Beeman said. "I want kids to be happy. She's leaving in great academic standing. I do think it's the best thing for her at this point.
"So that opened up a second scholarship. It opened it up pretty late. At this point, we're not just going to go find someone to find someone. If we can find someone viable, that's great. But we don't want somebody that we haven't had the opportunity to get to know. So that's kind of where we sit right now."
Beeman brought in local talent last year in the Big Island's Pua Kailiawa and didn't have to look far to get the services of Stephanie Ricketts, a UH graduate student. It's possible the last roster additions for next season will come in-state.
"There are a couple of local kids that, you know, we are hoping will want to walk on," the coach said. "If we can get them a scholarship for a year, that's always an option. So right now, recruiting is recruiting. It's kind of wait and see."
It also sounds like the Wahine schedule is nearly done. Beeman hopes for two nonconference road trips — somewhere in Arizona, and another to Los Angeles — and a general degree of difficulty below that of last season's gauntlet.
"We're waiting for a couple more to see if we can get a team or two to come out our way," she said. "Nothing's been finalized. ... Is it going to be an easy schedule? No. There were some games I was already contracted into from the previous staff. When you look at the schedule, it's still not wonderful, but it's definitely better than last year. It's a schedule that can help us have a strong RPI, give us some great experience both on the island and off the island. Some winnable games and some games we're really going to have to fight to win.
"As soon as it's finalized, I want to get it out. Sooner than later."