By Brian McInnis
It feels right to have some semblance of equality again in the practice start dates of the Hawaii men's and women's basketball teams. This year, they opened up just a day apart after the last two years of the Rainbow Wahine operating about two weeks ahead.
Laura Beeman's crew got under way on Tuesday in Gym 2 on the UH Lower Campus.
Her no-nonsense approach was back in a hurry. Beeman played no favorites with familiar faces, getting on returning players on at least two instances.
It was also the first full practice together for Beeman and her reconstructed coaching staff. Gone are two full assistants from last year, Gavin Petersen and Linnae Barber, and director of basketball operations Jen Yoza. In their place are Dekita Williams (last year's graduate assistant) and Wendy Anae as full assistants, with Alex Delanian as the new DOBO.
As far as the players go, the most compelling position battle will be at point guard, where Beeman needs to find a replacement for Monica DeAngelis. Her choices are numerous — last year's backup Marissa Wimbley, the versatile Destiny King, and newcomers Morgan Mason and Briana Harris.
Harris, a freshman, had one particularly impressive drive to the hoop that caught the defense off guard in 3-on-3 drills.
Player leadership should be a strong aspect of these Rainbow Wahine. Shawna Kuehu, one of five seniors, in particular arrived motivated and seems ready to go to war/run through a wall/(insert your best motivational expression here) for Beeman.
So motivated is Kuehu, in fact, that when broached with the subject of applying for another year of eligibility, the Punahou product was all for it. She sat out most of the 2011-12 season while pregnant.
An extra year would be remarkable, considering she initially signed with UH to play for Jim Bolla, was around in some capacity for all three years of Dana Takahara-Dias' tenure, and is about to embark on her second season under Beeman.
Still, she is optimistic and enthusiastic on the subject of a possible appeal to the NCAA.
"It's a work in progress," Kuehu said.
In other Wahine news, senior forward Kamilah Martin is back to being Kamilah Jackson. Sounds more natural, doesn't it? It should prevent me from messing up her last name then having to go back and change it about three times a story.
Mt. San Antonio College center Ashley Burchfield is looking doubtful to arrive this season, but it's not official yet. Beeman hasn't commented yet, but even an addition of the 6-2 Burchfield for the spring semester could be a longshot.
Word is the Rainbow Warrior basketball team will play an exhibition against Brigham Young-Hawaii on an undisclosed date. You can keep an eye out for Twitter updates from me @brian_mcinnis for any news on that.
Gib Arnold's team was off on Wednesday. They'll be back at it tomorrow with Negus Webster-Chan expected to be in action for the first time in full practice. He should add an interesting dynamic to the proceedings, even as a redshirting scout teamer.
It wasn't too surprising to see a five of Keith Shamburger, Garrett Nevels, Brandon Spearman, Isaac Fotu and Christian Standhardinger get the first crack at a new offensive set on Tuesday.
I'll have more on Shamburger's progress at point guard soon, either in the print edition or here. It's clear he's going to be tough to unseat for Quincy Smith or others.
Lastly, here's a bonus shot of KHON sports director Rob DeMello in a fantastic striped shirt at Wahine practice: