FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bobby Nash, who has spent most of his life around UH basketball, plays his final home games this week.
Season of destiny for Nash
As Bobby Nash's UH career winds down, he takes away many fond memories
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Bobby Nash is approaching the end of his five-year run as a Hawaii basketball player.
Idaho (6-19, 3-10 WAC) at Hawaii (11-14, 5-7); today, 7:05 p.m.; Stan Sheriff Center; TV: KFVE; Radio: 1420-AM
In truth, his connection with the Rainbow Warrior program extends far beyond his tenure on the court.
The son of longtime assistant and current UH head coach Bob Nash, the younger Nash has been around Hawaii basketball for as long as he can remember.
This week, he'll play his final home games at the Stan Sheriff Center, starting with Idaho tonight and Boise State on Saturday.
"It's all coming to a close, and hopefully after this season I can open a new chapter in my life," said Bobby, who sports the No. 33 Bob wore as a member of the Fabulous Five and has relished the opportunity to play for his dad this season.
"It's been a great ride. I have no complaints, I have no regrets about going to any other college. It's been awesome."
Nash ranks second on the team in scoring and rebounding and enters this week's action 32 points away from joining the program's 1,000-point club.
The emotions will likely be hard to contain when he's recognized along with six fellow seniors during Saturday's postgame ceremony. But they'll have to keep them bottled up a while longer.
"I'll be a basket case afterward," Bob Nash said. "But during the game he'd better be making his shots and trying to help us win the game."
Nash earned his political science degree last year, but wants to try to make a living off the game when his college playing days are done.
"I want to keep living the dream," he said. "I'll try to play until the wheels fall off."
Career statistics through Saturday:
|3-point field goals
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH senior Bobby Nash has contributed in unexpected ways, playing everywhere from point guard to power forward.
For a few minutes, it wasn't coach and player anymore.
The Stan Sheriff Center provided the backdrop, but it could have been a gym or blacktop anywhere. Just a dad flipping the ball to his son as he fired jumper after jumper.
"That moment, it's just father and son," Bobby Nash said after the shooting session that followed Hawaii's practice Tuesday afternoon. "We cherish those moments."
As much as the game-winning shots and the stirring victories, those are the images that will linger for the Rainbow Warriors senior -- and son of head coach Bob Nash -- long past his playing days.
In his fifth year in the program, the younger Nash's remaining moments as a player in the Sheriff Center have dwindled to just a few. He'll play his final two games in the arena this week, starting tonight against Idaho and concluding against Boise State on Saturday.
As for his tenure playing under his father, he'd like to extend that a while longer. The Rainbows have four regular-season games left, followed by the Western Athletic Conference tournament in Las Cruces, N.M.
Whenever the season ends, Nash will close a UH career that hasn't always gone according to plan, but has been a family affair at every step.
"For Bobby, I think it's very special he got to be coached by his father," said Domelynne Nash, Bob's wife and Bobby's mother. "I don't think there are too many situations in Division I basketball that you get that opportunity.
"UH has been so good to us, and I think he bleeds green. We all have a lot of special memories."
Officially, Bobby Nash's relationship with the University of Hawaii commenced on Nov. 13, 2002, when he signed his letter of intent along with eventual Rainbow Wahine volleyball standout Kanoe Kamana'o in a ceremony at Iolani School.
By any other measure, his association with Rainbow basketball seemingly began at birth.
Among his earliest memories are running around the Blaisdell Arena court with his sister, Erika, before the Rainbows would take the floor later that night. The former UH ballboy can rattle off the names of players he looked up to over the years -- from Chris Gaines to Tony Maroney to Kurt Taylor.
"Just being around the team, taking a good look at all these players and how they come to be great. They're like all my uncles," he said.
An All-State forward at Iolani, Nash considered going to the mainland for college, but elected to stay close to his roots at UH, where Bob had been a part of the famed Fabulous Five and then an associate coach.
Bobby played sparingly as a freshman, and became a part-time starter as a sophomore, a campaign highlighted by his buzzer-beating shot to beat Oral Roberts in the Rainbow Classic. He then had his first attempt at his junior season halted by a shoulder injury.
In hindsight, it was the injury that opened the possibility of ending his UH career playing under his father as head coach. After returning from a medical hardship, he averaged 11.2 points last season -- Riley Wallace's final year at the helm -- and Bob Nash was hired to take over the program last April after two decades as associate coach.
"I don't know about all the pain that comes with the shoulder injury, but somebody upstairs was looking out for me and He wanted me to have this opportunity to play for my dad," Bobby said.
"Being away from it that entire year, it was hard to bear, but then this would have never happened."
Likewise, his father has relished the chance to coach Bobby in his final college season.
"To see your son be a good player at the youth leagues, be a good player in high school, be a good player in the college level, and then to have a chance to coach him ... it's been a dream for me and I've enjoyed every second of it," Bob Nash said.
"He's been someone that I really have come to rely on. When things are going wrong I think he can have that calming influence on the floor and I trust that he's going to make the right decisions."
Still, this season hasn't turned out exactly the way Nash envisioned. Slated to start the season at small forward, injuries necessitated him playing anywhere from point guard to power forward.
He scored a career-high 30 points against Illinois in November and is averaging 14.3 points and 4.5 rebounds and has made a team-high 52 3-pointers entering this week's play.
"This year he gave up his normal position because he was needed elsewhere," Bob Nash said. "Early on he was scoring big numbers, but now he's in a role where he's down on the block and having to guard bigger, stronger guys and it just wears on you."
Although he's played out of position much of the year, he said the trials the Rainbows have faced this season just heighten his appreciation of the game.
"It's been a roller coaster," he said. "But when you're faced with adversity and you have to overcome it, it just makes winning that much sweeter."
Point guard Gibson a 'game-time decision'
Hawaii point guard Matt Gibson has been medically cleared, but whether he plays against Idaho tonight will be a "game-time decision," UH coach Bob Nash said after yesterday's practice.
Gibson, the Rainbow Warriors' leading scorer, hasn't practiced this week due to a sore knee that kept him out of UH's game at UC Riverside last Saturday.
"It makes it a little bit harder, but it's not like he doesn't know what's going on in terms of how we run our offense," Nash said of the practice time Gibson has missed. "The main thing is his health. We'll monitor it and see how it goes."
Nash said the Rainbows will start the group that has been working together in practice this week, with Jared Dillinger, Riley Luettgerodt and Bobby Nash in the backcourt and Bill Amis and P.J. Owsley in the post.
Jason Kaneshiro, Star-Bulletin