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Houl, Valdez rejoin Wahine


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POSTED: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two of Dana Takahara-Dias' vacant Rainbow Wahine basketball assistant positions were officially filled yesterday, while the third remains up for grabs.

Da Houl and Serenda Valdez, Hawaii assistants under Vince Goo for 12 years, will return to their old posts.

Houl, the associate head coach, will take the lead in recruiting, while Valdez will head up academics. But their duties — and those of a third assistant, which Takahara-Dias said she is still searching for — will overlap.

Takahara-Dias said she is keeping her options open, and will have a better idea of what she needs out of the third assistant once the current staff spends time together. She is taking a trip to the mainland next month but wouldn't discount local applicants, either.

“;That's a position we will leave open for now and make sure we will hire right,”; Takahara-Dias said. “;We look to fill that in the near future.”;

Sherice Ajifu, a recent University of the Pacific graduate, was named as the team's new director of operations. Ajifu, who worked with Takahara-Dias at Mayor Mufi Hannemann's Basketball Jamborees, replaces Kevin Hashiro.

Takahara-Dias is also taking a trip to Australia, which funneled several key players to the program while Houl and Valdez patrolled the Wahine sidelines with Goo.

The two new assistants were never far from campus during Jim Bolla's five-year coaching tenure. Houl was just up University Avenue as an assistant coach with Mid-Pacific Institute's girls basketball team and as a manager with UH's auxiliary services department. Valdez worked in the UH athletic department as assistant director of student affairs and athletics.

“;Our friendship and relationship goes way back (to our days as Wahine teammates in the 1980s),”; Takahara-Dias said of Houl. “;She's exactly the type of individual we want to help lead the resurgence of Wahine basketball.

“;I first met Serenda when I was the administrative assistant for Coach Goo (for five years in the late '90s),”; the coach said. “;I have a long-term relationship with her also, and know the talents and capabilities that she brings to the table.”;

From 1992 to 2004, Houl and Valdez helped in taking the team to three NCAA tournaments and four appearances in the WNIT. The Wahine won the conference title three times and finished second five times over that span.

“;We're going to complement each other really well,”; Houl said. “;Coach Dana ... her administrative skills are impeccable. Her philosophy on life in general, we believe in that. I think we'll mesh well together.”;

Valdez pledged that the new staff would “;re-recruit”; all of the team's returning players by spending time with as many of their families as possible over the summer.

“;We feel we need to build that bond before they get here on campus,”; said Valdez, a former player at Cal Poly Pomona.