Alum will lead Wahine


POSTED: Friday, May 29, 2009

She wasn't the most experienced pick, or the flashiest.

;[Preview]  UH Hires Takahara-Dias To Coach Wahine Basketball

The University of Hawaii chooses a former assistant and player to lead the Wahine basketball team.

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But she had the intangibles, and that was enough for the University of Hawaii to make Dana Takahara-Dias its seventh women's basketball head coach yesterday.

UH hopes its new hire will take the program back to its glory days and far, far away from its messy separation from Jim Bolla, who remains on the offensive against the university after it dismissed him for cause for allegedly kicking a player.

Takahara-Dias was a player. She walked on in 1984 from University High and earned a scholarship by her second season, eventually becoming a starting point guard at UH. Now she is the second woman to coach the Wahine, following Patsy Dung, the program's first female coach from 1974 to 1978.

She lacked the Division I coaching experience recommended on the job application, so she'll lean heavily on her successful six years of coaching at Moanalua High School (where she took Na Menehune to five straight state appearances in the '90s) and her past three years of heading up Team Aloha, a local all-star team.

“;We look at the Wahine program and the tradition it had,”; said Takahara-Dias, 43. “;We want to take it to new heights. We want to assemble the best people that we can. We want to recruit the best players, both academically and in basketball skills. Now we have (in Hawaii) very good prospects to play at the Division I level.”;

Much of Takahara-Dias' plan—which she successfully sold to the five-person search committee—involved not just winning games, but winning the public back to watch them in person.

“;We plan to put basketball on the map, and more importantly, we have a plan to bring the community back,”; she said. “;A grassroots effort, have everyone come and have ownership of this program, and build it back to where it used to be.”;

Athletic director Jim Donovan granted her a three-year contract with the same pay range as Bolla (between $118,488 and $209,784). After the committee met with Takahara-Dias on Wednesday, it deliberated for about 2 hours before forwarding Donovan its choice. He slept on the decision that night and had a clear mind about the pick yesterday morning.

“;(The committee) support was unanimous for Dana,”; Donovan said. “;But as I went through it too, I was looking at the intangibles and things like leadership skills, the knowledge of Hawaii, and more importantly, Hawaii high school basketball. Being on Team (Aloha) for the last three years, Dana knows the next three recruiting classes. She worked with them and coached them. Plus you can see by her presentation, she's got great presentation skills.”;

Her selection comes a week after she was reported elsewhere as a finalist, followed by her later telling the Star-Bulletin that she was never called by UH about the position. Donovan said yesterday candidates were called at different times and the situation was fluid right to the very finish.

Takahara-Dias is the director of the department of customer service for the City and County of Honolulu, and is expected to resign the post in the near future. Takahara-Dias takes the program's reins from interim coach Pat Charity, who assumed coaching duties on Feb. 13 when Bolla was placed on paid leave.

Adding to the challenge of adapting her game to the college level, the signing period for the 2009-10 season came and went with no new players inked. UH will be hard-pressed to add quality players for the coming season, but Takahara-Dias voiced confidence in the team's 12 returnees.

“;There's going to be a mean learning curve, no doubt about it, but I believe in my heart that basketball is basketball,”; Takahara-Dias said. “;You don't stray away from your philosophy or your integrity. And you make sure you build a strong foundation before you even have success.”;

The committee—associate AD Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, former coach Vince Goo, booster Don Murphy, David Uchiyama of the Hawaii Tourism Authority and former player Jill Nunokawa—picked out Takahara-Dias from among 85 applicants.

Goo, who was an assistant coach her first three years and the head coach her senior year, glowed about her leadership skills and polished overall resume.

“;Her entire career has been accomplishment after accomplishment. Just a good person,”; he said. “;She helped us as an administrative assistant for five years (1995-99), so I knew what she could do coach-wise, and she convinced the other members of the committee that she would be a good candidate, good coach.”;

The Wahine went 8-23 last year, suffering the most losses in any season in team history. Hawaii failed to advance to the postseason in all five years of Bolla's tenure.