Monthly Archives: January 2020

Tsubasa Nisbett deservedly makes Team of the Week

Tsubasa Nisbett.jpg

Tsubasa Nisbett making her mark

The silly season has begun in NCAA Division I basketball. With conference play now in full swing teams are regularly playing two games a week. The Lowdown Team of the Week has a nice geographical spread with three North Islanders and two South Islanders gaining selection. A special mention for Tsubasa Nisbett who has worked her way into the Georgia Southern starting lineup and is making some strong contributions with increased minutes.

Amiee Book, sophomore at Cal State Fullerton University

Cal State Fullerton (10-5) is off to its best start to a season since 1990-91 and one player playing a major role for the Titans is Amiee Book. In the latest win against Long Beach State (69-65) the Nelson native led all scorers with 21 points, including 4 from 6 from deep, and completed an impressive stats line by adding a team high 7 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal.

Akiene-Tera Reed, junior at Virginia Commonwealth University

Also stats stuffing was Akiene-Tera Reed as Virginia Commonwealth made it three from three in Atlantic 10 Conference play with a 65-52 win against St Louis. Reed scored a game high 24 points (10/19FG) secured 7 rebounds as well as grabbing 3 steals and dishing 4 assists. The points haul also took Reed past the 200 points mark for the season at an average of over 14 points per game.

Kendell Heremaia, junior at Fordham University

Despite Fordham University Rams slipping to a 74-62 Atlantic 10 Conference loss at Davidson, Kendell Heremaia was still able to manage 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals. It was the sixth double figure rebounding haul of the season for Heremaia and her fourth double-double of the campaign.

She followed that with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals as Fordham returned to winning ways – presiding over George Washington University 53-47.

Tegan Graham, senior at Colgate University

Former Wellington Girls College guard Tegan Graham had 9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and a block as Colgate University Raiders sunk Navy 80-55. The Raiders, 11-4 overall have made their best start in programme history and have begun Patriot League play in a strong fashion with three wins and a loss.

Tsubasa Nisbett, sophomore at Georgia Southern University

Cantabrian Tsubasa Nisbett is finding her feet at Georgia Southern University. Despite GSU going down 69-62 to Arkansas State the sophomore claimed a career high 11 rebounds – 6 of those at the offensive end. She also added 8 points, a brace of assists and a steal. The Eagles are 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference.

Bubbling Under

Shout out to Pareunuora Pene who made her first collegiate start as Tennessee Chattanooga opened Southern Conference play with a 59-52 win at Western Carolina. The Rotorua guard contributed 5 points, 3 rebounds and an assist.

BYU won a low scoring encounter against San Diego 52-36 with Shalae Salmon added 6 rebounds and a steal to half a dozen points (3/4FG). BYU now 3-2 in West Coast conference play.

It took overtime but Tulane Green Wave eventually got the job done against Tulsa squeezing home 64-62 in overtime. Playing 34 minutes Kayla Manuirirangi came up with 3 points and 4 assists. The former Junior Tall Fern followed that with 7 points in the tight 59-55 win against Memphis that makes Tulane three from three in American Athletic Conference play.

Michelle Nicholls came up with 6 points, a rebound, an assist and a steal as Purdue Fort Wayne suffered a fourth straight Summit League loss going down 100-69 to South Dakota State.

In other news Charlotte Whittaker is absent from the Colorado Buffaloes at present as she nurses a hip injury.

Kiwi Women playing NCAA Div I – First TOTW for 2020


The first Lowdown Team of the Week in NCAA Div I women’s basketball for 2020 is again headlined by former Waikato and St Peter’s School standout Kendell Heremaia

Kendell Heremaia, junior at Fordham University

Fordham University Rams got their Atlantic 10 Conference defence off to the best possible start with a 79-53 win against St Bonaventure. Once again Kendell Heremaia filled the stats line with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block – her third double-double of the season.

Akiene-Tera Reed, junior at Virginia Commonwealth University

Also registering  an Atlantic 10 Conference win were Akiene-Tera Reed and Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU gained a 75-54 away win at Rhode Island – Reed coming up with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

Shalae Salmon, senior at BYU

Shalae Salmon came up with 4 rebounds and 4 blocks to go with a couple of blocks but BYU slipped to a second consecutive West Coast Conference loss going down 57-48 to Portland. The 4 blocks were a career high for the Wellingtonian.

Tegan Graham, senior guard at Colgate University

A week after posting a career high in steals (4) Colgate University guard produced a career-high equaling 7 assists as the Raiders won a high scoring affair against Army 100-93. Graham also scored 9 points and pulled down 4 boards.

Kayla Manuirirangi, senior guard at Tulane University

Taranaki native Kayla Manuirirangi followed up her season best 16 points last week with a team high 14 in the 61-56 win against Wichita State as the Green Wave opened American Athletic Conference play with a win.

Bubbling Under

Tsubasa Nisbett played her part in a little bit of history being made by Georgia Southern in their 83-67 win against Louisiana. Nisbett (7 points and 3 rebounds) scored a late three for  the Eagles – their 14thof the game creating a new record high number of threes for the programme. GSU have opened Sun Belt Conference play with two straight wins.

Colorado University Buffaloes went to Oregon with an 12-0 record but were sent packing by the No 2 ranked Ducks 104-46. Freshman forward Charlotte Whittaker acquitted herself well in front of over 10,000 Ducks fans making 5 points in addition to 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a block.


Unfortunately Whittaker was sidelined with injury just three minutes into the Buffaloes next game – a 72-60 loss to #3 Oregon State.

Good start to 2020 for Kiwi men playing Div I hoops – latest TOTW selections


Yanni wetzell

Yanni Wetzell makes the Team of the Week as San Diego State climb into the NCAA Div I top ten as the latest rankings are released.

Read on to see who else makes the TOTW.

Yanni Wetzell, senior at San Diego State University

San Diego State jumped to #7 on the NCAA Div I rankings after a pair of wins against Fresno State (61-52) and Utah State (77-68). Yanni Wetzell came up with 5 points, 2 assists and a team high 8 rebounds against Fresno and 10 points and 5 boards against Utah.

San Diego (15-0) have made their best start to the season since 2010-11 when they had a certain Kawhi Leonard leading the Aztecs to the NCAA Tournament.

Angus McWilliam and Callum McRae, sophomores at University California Riverside

The Mack Attack of Angus McWilliam and Callum McRae struck again as UC Riverside comfortably beat San Diego Christian 89-51. McWilliam scored a career high 18 points (8/13FG) in just 19 minutes and also bagged 10 rebounds whilst McRae pitched in with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa, senior at Sacramento State University.

Izayah Le’afa moved to seventh-best in Sacramento State programme history for three-points made (146) as SSU beat Idaho State 68-49.. He finished with 7 points, 4 assists and three steals. The Hornets are now 1-2 in Big Sky Conference play.

 Sam Waardenburg, junior at Miami University

Miami were given a punch on the nose by No2 ranked Duke going down 95-62 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. However Waardenburg was complimented by Duke’s legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski who commented, “The guy who is playing really well is Sam Waardenburg. He’s an x-factor.”

The former Rangitoto College star eclipsed 250 rebounds as a Hurricane and tallied his 11thdouble figure points haul after finishing with 11 points and a team high 6 rebounds.

Bubbling Under

In a game that took four periods of overtime to settle St Mary’s Gaels lost 107-99 to Pacific. Dan Fotu scored 8 points but unfortunately fouled out early in the first overtime period.

Matt Freeman scored 8 points and added 5 rebounds and a brace of assists as UC Santa Barbara made it five wins on the bounce with a comfortable 87-66 victory over Westmont.

A third Kiwi with 8 points was Max de Geest who also added 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal as Long Beach State beat Cal State Los Angeles 76-60.

Portland are 1-1 in West Coast Conference play after defeating San Francisco 76-65. Former Auckland Grammar guard Taki Fahrensohn had 7 points, 3 assists and a steal for Portland. Fahrensohn will next face Dan Fotu and St Mary’s Gaels.

Wildcats welcome back Marita Davydova


Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats have announced their first signing for the 2020 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) season and it is a major coup not only for the Cantabrians but for women’s basketball in New Zealand.

The club have revealed that Russian forward Marita Davydova will be returning to the Wildcats this year. Davydova is a class act on and off the court – her presence sure to make the Wildcats WBC title contenders once again.

Davydova has recently been playing in Spain but had little hesitation in resigning with the Wildcats.

“I can say that I really enjoyed my time in New Zealand, I loved your nature and still smile when I remember breath taking views of the ocean, mountains and fields. I also loved the food in New Zealand!

“But above all it is people who made my decision to return so easy. I got so much love from my teammates, their families, management and the Wildcats fans that I decided to come back.

“Also I really liked coaching the Canterbury U14 team. It was a new experience for me. I really enjoyed sharing my experience with the young players of Christchurch,” added Marita.

New Wildcats Head Coach Dene Robinson is naturally delighted with the signing.

“I have had only positive reports about Marita in terms of her leadership and performance on and off the court.

“Coming back for a repeat season gives us the advantage of Marita knowing the league and the players. It is a real bonus for me as a coach, and for the squad, to have an experienced professional player returning to the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats in 2020,” Dene added.

Marita is looking forward to linking up with her teammates and coach Robinson.

“I have been in contact with Dene since December. He is very attentive and he is supportive of me even now, while I am playing in Spain.

“I have had a chance to work with coaches from four different continents and each of them taught me something so I really look forward to meeting him in person.”

The return of a quality international player like Davydova is not only a coup for the Wildcats but also the women’s game in New Zealand.

The former Russian U20 international has experience playing in the USA, Spain and Ecuador as well as her native Russia where she has played for four-times Euro League champions Sparta&K Vidnoe.

Davydova was named to the  WBC All-Star Five in 2019 after posting a league high 14.9 rebounds per game in addition to a team high 15 points per game but was very modest when speaking about her achievements.

“Every personal award or achievement is always a pleasant thing for any sportsperson. But in team sport all that is really important is the award that the team gets. My goal for this season is to do my best to help Wildcats win the WBC. If by doing so I get selected for some individual award, it would be a nice bonus. But I will repeat that I dream to return home in July with a WBC gold medal,” said Marita.

Marita enjoyed the level of competition last season and also believes the Wildcats culture will stand them in good stead for another tilt at the WBC title they won in 2016 and 2017.

“We had so much fun together all the time. I felt like I am with my family, very easy, relaxed and enjoyable and a great team spirit. In addition the Wildcats organisation was great.

“The WBC was very competitive. We had a great start, but at the end of the season we were less lucky and finished fourth. We also missed some of our players due to injuries and international representation. I hope that this season we will be more successful at the end,” Marita added.

The 2020 New Zealand women’s league season begins in May. With pre-season training beginning on January 19ththe Wildcats are set to make further player announcements in the coming weeks.


Three career highs amongst Men’s Div I Team of the Week

The Lowdown Team of the Week is dominated by former North Harbour representatives. Wellingtonian Izayah Le’afa breaks the northern domination with his fine performance otherwise the accolades fall the way of a couple of Westlakers and two Rangitoto College alumni.


Dan Fotu, sophomore at St Mary’s College, California

Promoted to a starting spot Dan Fotu responded in style scoring a career high 17 points as St Mary’s triumphed 84-58 against Seattle.

Playing in the unaccustomed role of centre Fotu was 7 from 9 from the field and 3 from 3 from the foul line whilst also adding 5 rebounds. “We know as a team that wins are what matters most so adjusting positions is just part of what we are willing to do to get the win,” said Fotu after the game.

M freeman

Matt Freeman, senior at University California Santa Barbara

Matt Freeman scored a career high 21 points (7/10FG, 6/7FT) as University California Santa Barbara defeated Merrimack College 68-50. The former Westlake wing also came up with 7 rebounds, an assist and a steal as the Gauchos improved to 9-4 ahead of conference play. In a profitable week for Freeman he scored 16 points in the 85-77 win against Louisiana as the Gauchos improved to 10-4.

sam waardenburg

Sam Waardenburg, junior at Miami University

A third career high was set by Sam Waardenburg as he posted his first double-double for Miami in their 91-60 demolition of Coppin State. He scored a career high 15 points and corralled a career high equaling 11 rebounds. The former Rangitoto College forward made 6 of 8 from the field including 3 from 5 from three-point range.


Yanni Wetzell, senior at San Diego State University

Wetzell posted 12 points, 8 rebounds and a brace of steals as San Diego State remained unbeaten this season with a 73-57 win against Cal Poly.

Izayah Le'afa

Izayah Le’afa, senior at Sacramento State University

Izayah Le’afa made a free throw for Sacramento State to tie proceedings with 5 seconds to play against Montana but Montana scored on the last possession to win 52-50. Le’afa scored 8 points and added 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals but Sacramento have started Big Sky Conference play with two losses.

Bubbling Under

Taki Fahrensohn scored 9 points (4/9FG) but Portland fell 61-46 to Ball State at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.

Callum McRae posted 7 points and 5 rebounds whilst Angus McWilliam had 8 points and 2 boards but it was of little consequence as UC Riverside were bombarded 105-56 by Air Force.

Also with 8 points (3/3FG) was Jackson Stent as Houston Baptist went down 107-88 at New Mexico.

Heremaia heads NCAA Div I Team of the Week

As 2019 wound down there were a number of standout performances by Kiwi women, playing NCAA Division I basketball, in the final week of the year. Kendell Heremaia led the Lowdown Team of the Week with Akiene-Tera Reed, McKenna Dale, Tegan Graham and Kayla Manuirirangi completing the five.

Kendell Heremaia

Kendell Heremaia, junior at Fordham University

Heremaia was in imperious form as hosts Fordham Rams won the Holiday Classic with a 63-54 win against Houston in the Bronx.

Heremaia was named Atlantic 10 Player of the week after a pair of games at the Classic where she lit up proceedings. Having scored 21 points against Stamford the previous day she averaged 16.5 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists over 31 minutes on consecutive days.


Akiene-Tera Reed, junior at Virginia Commonwealth University

Despite a career high 29 points (7/16FG) performance from Akiene-Tera Reed Virginia Commonwealth went down 69-58 to North Carolina A&T.

Reed scored 22 of her points in the second half and also added 5 rebounds and a pair of steals. She leads the VCU scoring averaging 14.4 points per game.

McKenna Dale

McKenna Dale, junior guard at Brown University

Dale finished 2019 in style banking double figures, including a career high 19 points, in her last four games for Brown University before their New Year break. Dale had her career first double-double (17 points and 12 rebounds) against FIU. Brown begin Ivy League play on January 17 at Yale.

Tegan Graham.jpg

Tegan Graham, senior guard at Colgate University

Colgate University wound up non-conference play with a 74-58 win at Wagner. Graham not only came up with 13 points (5/9FG) for the Raiders in the win but also captured a career high 4 steals.

Kayla Manu.png 

Kayla Manuirirangi, senior guard at Tulane University

Manuirirangi, the former New Plymouth Girls High standout, led the way for Tulane Green Wave with 16 points (a season best) in the 56-40 win against Georgia Southern. The senior guard knocked down 4 threes in that tally.

In the same game Cantabrian Tsubasa Nisbett contributed 3 points and 3 rebounds for Georgia in just her second start for the Eagles.

Bubbling Under

Pareunora Pene scored a season best 7 points in 24 minutes as Chattanooga went down 70-58 to Ohio in their final game of 2019.

Shalae Salmon came up with 4 rebounds and 8 points as BYU beat Loyola Marymount 59-44.

Colorado, currently an impressive 12-0, won their opening Pac 12 encounter against Utah 80-70. Charlotte Whittaker had 5 points, 3 rebounds and a block in the win.

Katelin Noyer produced 6 points and 3 rebounds as Fresno State outclassed UC Merced 92-26.