Nash to get his team together over summer
Even in the middle of the summer, there's enough work to keep things hopping around the Hawaii basketball offices.
The UH staff is in the midst of conducting the program's annual summer camp for youngsters, the coaches offices are being spruced up, and new head coach Bob Nash continues to work on filling out the 2007-08 schedule and his coaching staff.
Nash said the latter two are close to being completed and players are scheduled to report for summer school next month. He said having the team on campus early will give them a jump on academics and on training for the upcoming season.
Getting the newcomers on campus early also figures to help the freshman and transfers acclimate to life in the islands heading into the fall.
Nash said he's looking to complete the staff soon with the summer evaluation period for prep prospects coming up in early July.
His first game as Hawaii basketball coach is still months away, but Bob Nash is starting the clock a bit early for the Rainbow Warriors.
Nash expects to have the entire team -- including the incoming class of sophomores and freshmen -- in town early next month to get a jump-start on their academic work and training for next season.
The first-year head coach and longtime assistant said the players will be enrolled in classes for UH's second summer session, part of a plan he hopes will help the players stay on track toward graduation and allow the newcomers to adjust to life in the islands.
"Usually a guy will come here in late August and start school and they go through the homesickness ... and they don't really hit their stride until about December," Nash said. "We're trying to push that table up a little more. Get them here and get them acclimated."
At the news conference announcing his hiring in April, Nash said he would put an emphasis on academics and wants the players to get ahead in summer school before hitting the rigors of the season, with an eye on having players graduate on time.
"We want to make sure when a guy finishes his playing eligibility he also has his degree," Nash said. "It can be done in four years if it's properly planned."
Basketball-wise, Nash wants the players to use the summer months to beef up in the weight room then concentrate on conditioning leading up to the start of practice in mid-October, when he plans to implement a faster-paced style.
"We won 18 games last year with some stuff that was very sound," he said. "People hate to play us because they have to prepare for so much, I just want to add another dimension to it where we speed the game up a little bit and do some things defensively that we haven't done before. That'll take a commitment on our players' part to be in the best possible shape.
"I can't have guys who are not taking care of their bodies, not doing the academics. I have to have guys who are preparing themselves for the battles ahead."
Keeping up with the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate is another factor in getting ahead in school. The rule can result in a loss of scholarships for programs falling under a score of 925 (about a 50 percent graduation rate). With player retention factoring into the score, the Rainbows will also have to overcome the transfers of guards Dominic Waters to Portland State and Todd Lowenthal to UC Davis.
The summer evaluation period begins July 6, meaning Nash and the UH coaching staff will spend much of the month touring the nation's prep tournament circuit in search of prospects for the next recruiting class.
Nash said he'll hit events on both coasts and in the south along with the major tournaments in Las Vegas. He's also planing to stretch the search internationally, looking both north and Down Under.
The Rainbows may still add an international player to the roster for next season and already have a commitment from Canadian forward Adam Jespersen, an incoming senior at H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, Ontario, for the 2008-09 season.
Beal coach Tony Marcotullio said Jespersen, a 6-foot-8 (and growing) forward, committed after visiting the UH campus last month and ended the recruiting process early because "he didn't want to be hounded." He can make the commitment official during the fall signing period.
Marcotullio said UH still enjoys some name recognition in Canada thanks to the exploits of former Rainbows Carl English and Phil Martin.
"I think one of the things that pulled him to Hawaii is he knows Carl English and idolized him growing up," Marcotullio said.
Nash is also hoping to look at prospects in Australia and New Zealand.
"I think it's important for us to be able to see all those kids who are flying over Hawaii to get to the mainland from Australia," Nash said. "I think we need to see them and try to get some of them to stop here."
Jespersen's commitment figures to help restock a Rainbow team that includes seven seniors this season. Guard Hiram Thompson, who played in 18 games as a freshman in 2005-06, is in the midst of a two-year Mormon mission and could return for the 2008-09 season, though he would be eligible to sign with another school.
The Hawaii Boys and Girls Basketball Camp wraps up on Wednesday with a parent/child clinic from 6-9 p.m. The clinic includes skills instruction for players and tips for parents on aiding their child's development in the sport. The cost of the clinic is $25. High school-age players can also still sign up to participate in the 5-8 p.m., team session today through Tuesday. For more information, call 956-6501.