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Bolla not as bad as record makes him look


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POSTED: Monday, January 26, 2009

This was supposed to be the easiest rip job ever.

Wahine basketball.

Go watch them throw more passes to the 184 in the stands than to their teammates. Watch them ignore their coaches, watch them stink up their home court and get blown out again. Then write about how Jim Bolla should be fired for being an out-of-touch, incompetent and overpaid coach.

Well, there may come a time to do that, but it's not now. Problem is, that stuff didn't happen yesterday.

Yes, UH lost again—its eighth in a row—and by nine points to a very average Utah State team.

But, at least on this day, this wasn't the train wreck of a team I'd been led to believe it is by what I'd read and heard and the snippets I'd seen on TV. The Wahine competed.

They lost because of terrible shooting yesterday, not because, as some claim, Bolla coaches like Stalin governed and has lost the team.

You can pin almost anything you want on “;bad coaching.”; But I didn't see many of the classic symptoms. For example, Hawaii outrebounded Utah State by seven as the Wahine followed their shots and got 19 offensive boards. And they ran their offense well—still too many turnovers, but fewer of the what-was-she-thinking variety than usual. I also saw what looked like functional coach-player communication.

For the second day in a row at the Sheriff Center, the “;e”; word, effort, came up often. This time in a good way.

I came in expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised by a team that played smart and hard, competed and made it interesting.

At the men's game Saturday, I felt like leaving at halftime—and should have so I would have missed that sequence when three Rainbows watched an Aggie get his own rebound twice and finally score. But yesterday I was curious how this one would turn out as the Wahine led by two at the break. I'm thinking they faltered late because they've forgotten how to win, and that's unfortunate.

The one major flaw you can put on Bolla is talent level. It doesn't take a genius to figure out recruiting hasn't been the greatest.

Apparently, sometimes five years isn't five years.

“;I lost two recruiting years. It took four years for me to get a full-time staff,”; he said. “;How far behind am I? So let's get the real story out there, where we are.”;

Well, you're 3-16 in your fifth year. No one's going to agree you haven't had enough time to recruit.

People who want to fire Bolla also seem to forget that his contract would have to be bought out. So if you really want this done and you care about the department's finances, start selling chili tickets or something.

Personally, I like Bolla, but I didn't think he was the right choice to replace Vince Goo. Hiring the old UNLV women's coach, a former rival, was kind of like when Frank Arnold, the old BYU skip, was brought in to lead the men. That didn't work out very well.

Bolla had a lot more to say about criticism and such, and you can go online to starbulletin.com and peruse it at my “;Quick Reads”; blog.

When I asked a player (who doesn't want to be identified) if things are better morale-wise than they were a year ago, her face lit up and she said, “;Definitely.”;

So Bolla and his staff and the Wahine have that going for them.

But the winter of your discontent continues, UH sports fans. Men's and women's basketball and men's volleyball have lost 19 in a row and they're all in last place.

I caught one of these teams on a good day yesterday, and it was a nine-point loss.