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Seawolves making history

Kevin Klott

After helping the UAA women's basketball team capture its second straight Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout championship, Kalhie Quinones' hoops hangover ended quickly with the weekly grind of Monday morning classes.

"We're all history majors," joked the 5-foot-7 senior who's really one of just a couple players majoring in history.

But her team is making history.

The Seawolves (4-0) moved up nine spots in this week's Division II poll to become the No. 5 team in the nation -- the highest mark in program history behind the No. 14 spot to start the season.

The prestige came after the Seawolves beat two Division I opponents -- Cleveland State and Santa Clara -- to remain undefeated heading into this weekend's Glacier Classic at Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

Coach Tim Moser's offered his usual it's-not-that-special reaction to the Seawolves best ranking in team history.

"Who's voting?" he asked. "I don't know if we're the fifth-best team in the country. Right now, I don't think that's true."

But one thing that isn't bogus, Quinones said, is the basketball wisdom of UAA's second-year coach and his ability to bring out the best in his players.

Off to the best start coaching a women's team in UAA history, Moser has pushed the team to an impressive level. He sports a perfect 20-0 record in home games and is 27-6 overall.

"I feel lucky to be here," Quinones said. "(Moser's) a very smart man. He knows the game of basketball.

"Basketball is like a game of chess. When you know your next move, you're going to be very successful."

Quinones said she moved to Alaska this summer because of Moser, who coached her for three seasons in her home state of Colorado at Otero Junior College. She red-shirted there her first year, then played two seasons under him before transferring to D-I Utah State.

Moser, a former player on the UAA men's team, started his coaching career at Otero, where he captured nine conference coach-of-the-year awards and nine league titles and compiled a 73.9 winning percentage in 14 seasons (eight with the men's team and six with the women's team).

"Moser has the ability to do something special with any team," Quinones said. "The way he brings us all together, and working together outside of basketball, is amazing.

"I like what he did there and what he's doing here. It really works."

On the court, Moser's demeanor is cool and collected, rarely ripping officials or yelling at players for botched plays.

But during practice, Quinones said, he can howl at the Seawolves.

"I think every coach has a point where their buttons can be pushed," she said. "Especially at practice. If you're not doing it, you should expect to get yelled at."

But during games?

"He's very collected," she added. "If coach doesn't blow up at you during games, you will go far. We just really need to concentrate on staying focused and working our tails off to keep him happy."

At Utah State, Quinones started 21 of 28 games her junior season. Her career with the Aggies ended early when she decided to return to Loveland, Colo., to attend to family matters.

She spent two years away from the game, but kept her body in shape, playing pickup basketball games and carving powder at the nearby Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Meanwhile, Quinones kept her options open, even though Utah State's coach said her college career was done.

"I had my old (Utah State) coach tell me that nothing was going to happen for me," she said about leaving the program. "I just tried to stay positive and let my parents know that I will play again one day.

"It was a rough ending."

But with the help of Moser, Quinones is enjoying a rebirth with the Seawolves. She's showing no signs of court rust, averaging seven points, 4.8 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

And she played a major role in the Seawolves' run to the Shootout championship, earning a spot on the all-tournament team.

"Kalhie's one of our toughest kids," he said. "I think it's kind of contagious."

Quinones played out of position at point guard for Moser at Otero. Her competitive nature is the same as it is here, he said, but playing shooting guard -- her natural position -- has improved her patience.

"She used to have frustration, get angry easier," Moser said. "She's not a point guard. She's a playmaker and wants to do whatever it takes to win."

Case in point: Quinones' pass in the closing seconds of the title game set up center Rebecca Kielpinski's game-winning layup.

"She kept her composure," Moser said.

And owning a top-five spot in the country, Moser will try to keep the Seawolves from thinking too much of themselves this weekend.

"Though we won the Shootout, there's things we need to get better at," he said. "We've got a long ways to go."

Find Kevin Klott online at adn.com/contact/kklott or call 257-4335.

Division II Top Five/span>

1. University of North Dakota

2. Delta State University (Miss.)

3. Washburn University (Kan.)

4. University of California-San Diego

5. UAA


By KEVIN KLOTT
kklott@adn.com