Waiting game weighing down coachless Rainbows
It's a bright holiday morning in Manoa and the returning members of the Hawaii basketball team are busy readying themselves for a cloudy future as the search for a new head coach continues.
"You just have to be prepared for whatever is thrown at you, and that's what we're doing now," senior Bobby Nash said after the Rainbow Warriors' weightlifting session at the Stan Sheriff Center's Waterhouse Training Facility yesterday.
"We're here on a holiday working out, trying to get ready for next season and trying to get prepared."
Riley Wallace completed his 20-year tenure as head coach last month with an 18-13 season. The question of who will lead the program next season has been floating around the athletic department since Wallace announced his intention to step down last December and has picked up momentum over the last month.
Among those most curious about the answer are those who will be taking the floor for the new coach.
"People ask me and I'm just like, 'I really don't know,' " senior Riley Luettgerodt said. "It seems like it's all been under wraps, so there's a lot of uncertainty. ... I think the coaches and us just want to get it finalized. We're hoping within the next week we'll know."
Since UH ended the season at the Western Athletic Conference tournament in New Mexico on March 8, the attention has turned to athletic director Herman Frazier and a five-member advisory committee assembled to sort through 70-plus applications.
The committee reportedly began meeting this week, and as with most personnel matters, Frazier has declined comment on the search. He previously said he hoped to have a new coach named the week after the Final Four.
In the meantime, the Rainbows can only share in wondering what direction the program will take while working to stay in shape.
"We're just trying to focus on getting our individual skills better so that no matter what we'll be better for next year," said senior center Stephen Verwers. "But knowing who the head coach is and knowing what kind of system you have to work for would help a little bit."
Nash has an obvious preference in the field of candidates, as his father, associate coach Bob Nash, has applied for the job. Other players have also expressed their support for the 26-year UH assistant.
"It's in the hands of Mr. Frazier and he has to make a tough decision," said Bobby Nash, who hears the questions and comments on the situation at nearly every turn. "I have my own biases, but all you have to do is prepare for whatever comes at you.
"I can understand how hard of a situation it is for him. Whatever he goes with, we'll deal with it and move on."
Said Verwers: "I really like working with him during our post workouts every day. We hope it's him, but we really just want to get it over with and find out who it's going to be."
Other names that have popped up recently as possible candidates include UCLA assistant Donny Daniels, Portland Trail Blazers assistant Dean Demopoulos, former Minnesota and Gonzaga coach Dan Monson, former Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan and Rice coach Willis Wilson.