CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier, left, introduced Bob Nash yesterday as the Rainbow Warriors' new head basketball coach. Nash served 26 years as an assistant at the school.
UH puts program in Nash’s hands
The new boss waited 26 years to get a shot at his dream job
Tom Petty had it right.
"The waiting is the hardest part."
After 26 years as an assistant and associate coach under three head coaches, enduring the final stages of his ascent to the top job in the Hawaii basketball program taxed Bob Nash's insides.
The Nash File
San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College
Second team JUCO all-America (1970). AP, UPI, Universal Sports honorable mention All-America; Basketball News third-team All-America (1972).
Rebounds in a game (30 vs. Arizona State, Dec. 30, 1971) and season (361, 1971-72). Rebounding average in a season (14.4, 1971-72) and career (13.6, 1970-72).
: Detroit Pistons (NBA)
San Diego Conquistadors (ABA)
Alvid Basketball (Sweden)
Kansas City Kings (NBA)
Hawaii (head coach)
1981-83: Graduate assistant (Larry Little)
1984-87: Assistant coach (Little/Frank Arnold)
1987-2007: Associate coach (Riley Wallace)
"I thought it was a game day," Nash said. "My stomach has been churning, every time the phone rings I'm jumpy. You just want to get out and play and get that tension out of you. That's how I felt all day long."
Finally, just past 2:30 p.m. yesterday, Nash's wait for a head coaching job officially ended when he was introduced as the new leader of the Hawaii basketball program at a press conference at the Ed Wong Hospitality Room.
Nash said he was informed yesterday morning by UH athletic director Herman Frazier of his selection to succeed Riley Wallace as the Rainbow Warriors coach.
The announcement capped a nerve-wracking process over the last three weeks as Frazier and a five-member advisory committee went through the search process after receiving 71 applications for the job.
Frazier submitted Nash's name to UH chancellor Denise Konan and president David McClain earlier yesterday morning for final approval.
"I had to prove myself to (Frazier) that I was worthy of being the head coach," Nash said. "He saw I was up for the challenge to fight for this job. It was not a given."
Tony Guerrero, the chairman of Ahahui Koa Anuenue and a member of the advisory committee, earlier in the week said he was "impressed with the process and the number and quality of the applicants."
Frazier said Nash's contract still needs to be finalized. Nash was given a three-year deal with options at the conclusion of each year, and Frazier said Nash's salary will be "north of $200,000." Wallace made $275,000 in the final year of a contract that expires on April 30.
"Bob won it fair and square," Frazier said. "One of the other candidates I called said to me, 'If I lost out to Bob, then I'd feel good about losing. If it was somebody else, I'd feel sad about it.' "
Nash first arrived in Hawaii as a junior-college transfer 37 years ago and starred at forward on the Fabulous Five teams that played in the National Invitation Tournament and NCAA Tournament for the program's first postseason appearances.
After a professional career, he began his coaching career in 1981 as a graduate assistant under Larry Little. He has remained a fixture on the bench ever since, spending the last two decades "honing his skills" under Wallace.
He'll assume stewardship of a program that reached the postseason nine times under Wallace's watch and finished 18-13 this year for its eighth straight winning campaign.
Wallace, who endorsed Nash since he formally announced his retirement in December, didn't attend yesterday's news conference and was on the mainland due to a death in the family.
"That makes me feel good that he'll get his chance. He deserves it," Wallace said. "He'll be his own man and I think you'll see a totally different game. ... He's got his own game plan.
"He's as prepared as anyone can be. He knows and understands Hawaii."
Now that the decision is official, Nash's priorities include finalizing his staff. He said the coaches will continue with the recruiting process.
"I'm going to take my time with it," Nash said of filling out the coaching staff. "I think it's important we get the right blend and the right mix."
Nash already has some head coaching experience, filling in for two games Wallace missed due to health reasons. He'll make his debut as head coach on Nov. 9 when the Rainbows face San Diego.
Among his duties as associate coach was handling scheduling, and his first season will include a nonconference game against Illinois and a home-and-home series with New Mexico prior to the Western Athletic Conference schedule.
He promised that the Rainbows will stress academics, play a fast-paced style and "work harder than anybody else."
"They think Coach Wallace worked them hard -- they have no idea," Nash said.
The hiring was also welcomed by the Rainbow players in attendance.
"That's what we all wanted," senior guard Matt Gibson said. "As far as where we're headed and the direction we're going, we're going to figure that out now. The ball's rolling, so we're going to jump on the bandwagon and follow our leader."
The promotion also means Nash will be on the UH bench for his son's final college season.
"Just utter joy, validation -- words can't even describe it," senior forward Bobby Nash said a day after being named the 'Bows' Most Inspirational Player at the team's banquet.
"When I heard he was going to be the coach I almost started tearing up because I know it's a lifelong dream. He's just an awesome coach and an awesome dad and you can't expect anything more."