The scene Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves laid out would have been familiar to any Maui Interscholastic League girls basketball fan.
In an exhibition against an overmatched Corban team on Saturday, the first play of Maiki Viela's career for the Zags was one seen hundreds of times over the years during her time at Lahainaluna High School.
"The first possession she was on the floor the other night she just made a great wraparound pass to our All-American center (Kayla Standish) for a layup and that was her first possession in a Zags uniform," Graves said of Viela via phone on Monday. "It was a pick-and-roll, which is what we're known for around here, and she played it perfectly, made the correct pass right on the money for a layup. I think she showed that we are going to be seeing that for the next four years."
Maiki Viela, a graduate of Lahainaluna High School, and Gonzaga start the season Friday against Hofstra.
Torrey Vail photo
That was Viela's only assist in 11 minutes of action in an 83-46 Gonzaga win. She was 1-for-3 from the floor, missed her only 3-pointer, committed two fouls and three turnovers and finished with two points. Those are modest numbers for the 2010 state player of the year, three-time MIL Player of the Year and first Parade All-American in any sport from Maui. She is the second Parade honoree ever to play for Gonzaga women's basketball.
"It felt good to get in there and be able to do something right off the bat, get a rhythm and it definitely gave me some confidence," Viela said.
Viela knows she has plenty to work on to be ready to contribute to the Zags. They play Hofstra in their opener Friday in Spokane, Wash., and travel to face No. 5 Stanford on Sunday.
"I definitely need to be more of a vocal leader, work on my defensive principles," Viela said. "It is definitely faster. You wouldn't think there is that much of a difference, but when you step on the college court a lot of things change."
Graves is counting on Viela picking up the college game.
"She is certainly one of the players who is going to get time, no question about it," Graves said. "She was great on many levels. Number one, I think she is a player who is going to get better and better and better when she gets stronger and adapts to the college game. Number two, she is smart."
Graves said Viela is the only true point guard on the Zags' roster. All-American Courtney Vandersloot graduated after Gonzaga's run to the NCAA Elite Eight last season, was the No. 3 pick in the WNBA draft and played in the WNBA All-Star Game.
"We needed that position, we just lost maybe the greatest point guard in college basketball history," Graves said. "So, we had a real need there. We are excited that (Viela) is a Zag, no question about it. I think she can help us, she plays the way we like to play."
Viela said she is not trying to be Vandersloot.
"Obviously there will never be another Courtney Vandersloot, so I just have to play my game and contribute in any possible way that I can," Viela said.
Even the breakneck pace that the Lunas employed on their way to the 2010 state Division I title - the first D-I crown for any MIL basketball team - pales in comparison to what Gonzaga does. The Bulldogs averaged 85.3 points per game last season, when they were 31-5.
"We led the nation in scoring last year, so uptempo really does mean uptempo," Graves said. "That is an area she has got to better, but her court vision is tremendous."
The forecasted high temperature for today in Spokane is 49 degrees, with a low of 29.
"Spokane is pretty cold - she was cold in August when she first got here," Graves said with a chuckle. "And she hasn't seen anything yet, so that will be an adjustment for her."
Despite the weather, Viela knows she made the right decision to attend Gonzaga, the school she chose over the University of Hawaii.
"I definitely made the right decision to come here," she said. "Gonzaga is a great place and I am really lucky to be here."
That resembles the feeling she had for seemingly her entire life growing up in Lahaina. Her grandfather Lanny Tihada is a longtime coach for the Lunas football team and she grew up in the shadow of the school, often following Tihada to football practice as a youngster. This week, she has been texting football friends as the Lunas prepare for their state Division II quarterfinal playoff game against Konawaena.
"Lahainaluna has obviously been a big part of my life and it helped me a lot and it definitely is one of the big reasons why I am here," she said. "I just want to tell everyone back home, 'Thank you for supporting me and being there for me.' The Lahainaluna community has always been there for me. It is the best community to ever be a part of and I am glad that I was raised and brought up in that environment. I definitely miss it, but it is time to move on."
Lahainaluna girls games were moved from the school gym to the Lahaina Civic Center during Viela's career because of the demand to watch the games - the Lunas have won an MIL-record 59 straight games. Young girls often sported Viela's corn-row hairdo as they wore "Luna-Tic" T-shirts.
"I haven't seen that look yet, but they are going to love her here, too, because that's a position that we have been really blessed at here," Graves said. "She has just got that flair about her that I think will make her a crowd favorite for us."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org