Hawaii coach Vince Goo was adorned with leis prior to Thursday's game at the Stan Sheriff Center. Goo coaches his final home game tonight.

End of an Era

Goo says he won’t be emotional
as he coaches his final home
game tonight

Twenty years. Hundreds of games on the hardwood. A coaching legacy that has molded a generation of players with values that have led to success on and off the court.

Fresno State at Hawaii

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Stan Sheriff Center


Radio: None


There are sure to be many watery-eyed moments tonight. But don't expect any tears to leak from Hawaii coach Vince Goo's eyes.

"I'm too tough for that," said Goo, who retires at the end of his 20th year in the program and 17th as head coach.

Instead, it will probably be his players -- past and present -- who express the most emotion as the Rainbow Wahine close out the Western Athletic Conference season today against Fresno State (12-15, 6-11) at 7 p.m. It is Goo's last game at the Stan Sheriff Center, where Hawaii is 129-52 under his direction. Goo and senior April Atuaia will be honored following the game.

The Bulldogs stand in the way of Hawaii's goal of ending with four straight wins at home. Fresno State has won four of its last five games and appears to be gaining momentum going into next week's conference tournament. The Bulldogs' recent run vaulted them into a sixth-place tie with UH (8-18, 6-11) and San Jose State (14-12, 6-11).

Not that it matters. The Wahine are confident they can send Goo off with a 'W'.

"It'll definitely be a good game because it's Vince's last home game," said junior Jade Abele. "It's going to be a very emotional game and we're all really going to come out and bust our asses to make sure he gets a win."

Added freshman Janevia Taylor: "We want Vince to be happy. We don't want him to think about his last game (at home) and look at it as a loss. What's most important is that we beat Fresno.

"The way we've played our last three home games, the way our defense is, I think we have a greater advantage going at them."

While his players want to win badly, if they do, part of the reason will be Goo's preparation. The atypical coach had a typical week prepping Hawaii for its final homestand. After coaching the Wahine to a win on Thursday night against Nevada, Goo was in the office by 6:30 a.m. yesterday watching film and preparing for today's contest.

Asked what was running through his mind the day before his final game at home, Goo replied "beating Fresno State." Though Goo implores his players to play with heart, his sentimental side is rarely seen.

Vince Goo talked to his players during Thursday's game vs. Nevada.

"If (you think about it) then you're coaching with your heart instead of your head. And that's not good. You have to coach with your mind, not with your heart," said Goo, as he watched film in his office.

"(Emotion), is that a word in his vocabulary?" UH associate coach Da Houl asked rhetorically. "I don't even know if he knows what it means.

"Can't get him to shed a tear. If he did, he hides it pretty well. He's very sympathetic and he can empathize with the girls. (But) that's a man full of steel. Twenty years and I haven't seen it."

What 20 years has shown is the Goo legacy, which includes winning, academic excellence and loyalty. Goo inspires all of those things in his players.

Last fall, the Wahine posted the highest GPA (3.17) of the 19 intercollegiate programs at UH. The 41 photos that line his office wall are a testament to a graduation rate that is perfect. The 334 victories (the most in Hawaii basketball history) are proof that academics and athletics can coexist successfully.

Goo won't be asking for more when he walks off the Sheriff Center floor for the final time.

"I might feel different after the game tomorrow knowing you're not going to get back in here and be on the sidelines," he said. "But I made the decision to move on. I'm ready for someone else to come in and send this program in the right direction."

Just as he sent many of his players on the right path.

"He's always taught the girls to play with heart and I'm sure his is probably aching a bit," said Houl, who played for Goo her senior year. "Most of the alumnae I talk with, the first thing that came up in our conversation was to play with your heart. From there on, it carries you a long way in your life in whatever you do."

Even the players who won't get to experience four years of his tutelage understand the message he teaches.

"I'm very lucky that I had the opportunity to play here because I'm very small," said 5-foot-4 guard Trisha Nishimoto. "I never thought I would go past high school basketball. He really taught me a lot about basketball and school and having good character.

"This program is shaped by his rules. He always tells us that you're never a loser unless you start to quit. Even if you lose a game, if you gave your all, there's nothing more you can ask for."

Notes: Sophomore Brittney Aiwohi celebrated her 20th birthday yesterday. ... Aiea grad Aritta Lane leads the Bulldogs with 12.6 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. ... Senior citizens 65 and up can receive free admission to the game.


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