Wallace likely done in 2 years
Retirement then would coincide with the end of his contract and mark 20 years on the job
RENO, Nev. » Riley Wallace might continue to coach basketball after the 2006-07 season, but he indicated his 20th year as Hawaii head coach will likely be his last.
"I'm not announcing my retirement publicly yet, but I do have a two-year contract with the University of Hawaii and then it's over there. But we'll see what happens then," Wallace told the Star-Bulletin at the Western Athletic Conference media preview on Wednesday.
Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier confirmed Wallace has two years left on his contract, but wouldn't say what the future held for the Rainbows basketball program.
"We negotiated a two-year extension for Coach Wallace last spring," Frazier said. "Any speculation after that is just that, speculation. We are gearing up for our basketball season, which officially begins with Twilight Ohana (tonight) at the Stan Sheriff Center."
Wallace, 63, is the winningest coach in UH history. His record at Hawaii is 299-241. He said he's still excited about the Rainbow Warriors, who open practice tonight with their annual public unveiling (now called Twilight Ohana instead of Midnight Ohana).
"I enjoy coaching, being around the guys. It's still fun," Wallace said. "I've got a lot of time left. Two years is a lot of time and we've got a lot of goals that we want to fulfill. Win this conference, get to the tournament and advance."
Wallace said he hopes associate coach Bob Nash replaces him as head coach. Nash is in his 25th season on the UH staff. The former NBA player was also one of the greatest players in the program's history.
"Oh, no question. That's got to be the next step, I hope. He's paid his dues and he's really grown as a coach," Wallace said. "He's got the personality for it and he loves Hawaii and is local as you can get coming from outside. That's Bob Nash. Herman said we'll talk about that when the time comes."
Wallace said he supports Nash as head coach because he would take the job with no illusions, and he wouldn't leave in frustration after a year or two.
"I've got two years to get across to people it's a tough job. You have great people, but it's a different place to live and coach," Wallace said. "That's why I think Bob Nash would be a good choice. He knows and understands Hawaii and how much hard work and what good assistants mean to you, loyalty, things like that. I hope the administration will put together a package to keep this where it is, because it was hard to put it together."
Utah State coach Stew Morrill has known Wallace from the time he was coach at Colorado State and their teams battled in the old Western Athletic Conference. He said Wallace's run of 14 winning seasons in 18 years is incredible considering the geographical and recruiting challenges of Hawaii.
"What he's done at Hawaii hasn't been done before, to stay there that long and be that successful. His teams play hard, they execute, they're hard to prepare for," Morrill said. "He's a straight-up guy. I love that about him. He will always be a really good coach and friend in my mind."
Wallace said he doesn't know what he would do if he retires from coaching basketball.
"That's something to start thinking about," he said. "My wife (Joan, a school teacher) is retired, but I look over there and she's subbing four days a week, or volunteering at the school. She keeps busy, but it's by her choice.
"You can't play golf every day. You can't fish every day. I've got grandchildren to chase around a little, too. So there's a lot of things out there if you don't decide to stay in coaching or administration."
He does not consider staying on as a part-time or volunteer assistant among the options.
"I would never do that," he said. "When I step out, it's over. I'll be a fan, I'll be a promoter of the University of Hawaii and hope they win every game and go undefeated every season and I'll be out there doing whatever I can to help them -- away from interfering with the game."
But all that is two years down the road.
"I remember talking to Dean Smith when he was looking at retirement," Wallace said. "He said never make that decision at the end of the season, because you'll always quit. He said it's because most people end with a loss. So you make your decision at the beginning of the season if you don't have the energy to get up and go.
"It's good that I've been around long enough that people are starting to ask that question."