CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Instead of pursuing a career in economics after college, Hawaii basketball team assistant coach Eran Ganot, 25, took an entry-level position at St. Mary's College with no paycheck. He's in his second year at UH. CLICK FOR LARGE
Hawaii job works for Ganot
Eran Ganot gets his shot with basketball 'Bows
STORY SUMMARY »
Family and basketball.
Eran Ganot's priority list doesn't go much further than those two elements in his life, and his dedication to the game led him to a job with the Hawaii basketball team's coaching staff.
Ganot was a volunteer assistant at St. Mary's for three years and was hired by former UH coach Riley Wallace last year as director of operations, which meant handling some of the program's more menial tasks. But his work ethic and basketball acumen convinced new Rainbow coach Bob Nash to make Ganot a full-time assistant this season.
"He doesn't have a life other than basketball," Nash said.
"Anyone who would spend two or three years for minimum wage in this profession just for the opportunity, you have to look at them very seriously because they're making a commitment."
Ganot, 25, was a basketball junkie growing up in New Jersey and is looking forward to applying the work ethic that impressed his bosses in his previous roles to his new role.
His time as a two-year captain at Swarthmore College gave him a taste of the responsibility that comes with coaching.
"That's the one thing in coaching, you can't slip up," Ganot said.
"The example that you set has to be on cue all the time. ... You're one slip-up away from losing them.
"The No. 1 deal with any of these jobs is what can I do to help this program reach its potential, what can I do to help us win games," Ganot said. "There's no difference in what the previous jobs were, the specifics are different."
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WHEN Eran Ganot says coaching basketball isn't about the money, he has the background to back up the cliche.
Fresh out of Swarthmore College, Ganot shunned an opportunity to convert his economics degree into a comfortable living in the world of finance in favor of an entry-level position that didn't come with a paycheck at a college clear across the country.
"I had a meal card, so I had to eat every single meal in the cafeteria," Ganot recalled of his three years as a volunteer administrative assistant with the St. Mary's College basketball team.
"It was a no-brainer for me. People may have said I was crazy, but for me, this is what I wanted to do."
Ganot's eagerness to get a foot in the coaching door and willingness to move even farther from his New Jersey roots led him to Hawaii last year and, eventually, his first full-time coaching job as a new assistant on the Rainbow Warrior staff.
Ganot was hired by former UH coach Riley Wallace prior to last season as director of operations, a glorified title for the person assigned some of the program's more inglorious tasks. His work ethic was among the traits that convinced new head coach Bob Nash to promote Ganot to assistant coach this summer.
At 25, Ganot is by far the junior member of a staff led by Nash, who started coaching at UH the year before Ganot was born. Associate coach Jackson Wheeler is entering his 18th year with the Rainbows and newly hired assistant Larry Farmer was formerly head coach at three schools.
"He has good knowledge, he's played the game, he understands the game, but more importantly he's able to teach the game," Nash said. "That's what we want at this level."
Entering his first season of full-time coaching, Ganot is looking forward to working to meet the demands and expectations that come with being awarded a Division I job.
"I have to prove myself," he said. "There are only three of these positions at each school and I have to come through and I have every intention of doing that."
Most of Ganot's first month on the job was spent traveling the globe during the summer evaluation period, making stops in Australia, Los Angeles, Canada and Las Vegas to scout prospects, while working in a visit to New Jersey to see his family.
Since returning in late July, he's involved in helping fill out the Rainbows' upcoming schedule and implementing his computer savvy in aiding with recruiting and, eventually, scouting opponents.
"I will watch as much film as it takes," said Ganot, who will have some long nights ahead of him this season as he helps put together scouting reports. "It's so competitive in this profession that you almost have to be a junkie, because other guys are doing the same thing."
Ganot was a two-year captain at Division III Swarthmore, where he played all five positions over his career. He played through a back injury his final two years, and not long after the buzzer sounded on his final game as a player Ganot began his quest to get into coaching. He got his first break in the business from Randy Bennett at St. Mary's and another from Wallace last year.
"When I got (into coaching) people would say the profession takes you places, it makes decisions for you and you have to be willing to go anywhere," said Ganot, who made some extra cash at St. Mary's by working at summer camps.
"I consider myself extremely fortunate because I got to work with people who gave me good responsibilities, who worked extremely hard, who understood the game and above all are really good people."
His three years at St. Mary's and his first at UH weren't glamorous, but he attacked tasks such as coordinating travel and film exchange with a verve that impressed his bosses.
"Little things are big things," Ganot said. "Anything's important in some respect to helping your team win. Hopefully, the responsibilities get more important, but the approach doesn't change."
Still, Ganot felt "chained up" under the restrictions placed upon a director of operations and is looking forward to more hands-on coaching. He fulfills the "full-time" title when it comes to his devotion to basketball.
"One day I'll have a balance," Ganot said. "I want to have a balance but at this point this is constantly on my mind. I like it, I really like what I do, I love my job. It's hard for me to step away from it sometimes. Especially in this profession because you can always do something to think of ways to get better."
Still taking shape
The UH roster for the upcoming season may not be finalized just yet. The team has a scholarship available and can add players before the start of classes on Aug. 20.
"We never stop recruiting, if we have an open scholarship we're going to continue to recruit," Nash said. "Whether it's international or inner city it doesn't really matter, we're going to be all over the place trying to find new players."
UH lost three seniors off last year's team and two more, guards Dominic Waters and Todd Lowenthal, transferred. The 'Bows signed four newcomers to scholarships in the spring, leaving one more available.