Beleaguered Nash deserves 1 more year


POSTED: Sunday, March 08, 2009

So this is what happens on a senior-less senior night. No seniors to play for, so the home team gets run off the court.

More to it than that, of course. Basketball's an emotional game, but an 11-point loss at home also comes down to sad facts. Hawaii's just too easy to figure out. Play zone and double Rod Flemings. No one's going to hit that open jumper consistently enough to make a difference, that is if they get to that point without a turnover.

But coach Bob Nash is befuddled, says he “;can't put his finger on it.”;

Some of you think it's time to fire Nash, perhaps barring a miracle run in the WAC tournament. Buy him out, you say—doesn't matter that the athletic department is already in a hole.

I say give him one more year, even if the Rainbows lose the tourney play-in game Tuesday. And if this team isn't significantly better a year from now, it will be time to reassign him to some other job, like guy in charge of campus parking. If you think that's cold, a bad way to treat a school legend, then you're too young to know there's precedent. Ask Red Rocha, who coached Nash and the rest of the Fabulous Five but was later fired—and found out at the team banquet. College sports was business first, even as far back as the 1970s.

I was among those who thought this team could improve significantly from the beginning of the season. But it didn't.

How can a squad with a talent like Flemings be 13-16? Well, he doesn't have the right players around him for one.

Athletically, only Flemings and, in spots, Brandon Adams and Kareem Nitoto, played like they belonged on the same court as New Mexico State last night. Pregame, I snickered at Jonathan Gibson channeling the appearance of Allen Iverson, sleeve and all. Then Gibson went out and played like him.

The answer for Hawaii, or at least part of it, is an extreme roster makeover. The two scholarships available isn't gonna cut it, and that means some tough choices for Nash.

It was so bad last night that Hiram Thompson did the saving time by not picking up the ball on the inbounds thing—only 4 minutes into the second half! Well, the way the Rainbows have trouble getting into their offense, it may have been to delay the start of the shot clock.

It ticks fast now in college basketball, on possessions and on expectations for coaches. There's no such thing as a long-term plan. Two losing seasons in a row means hot seat for any coach.

UH needs another big man, a legitimate outside shooter and a true point guard for next year. Two scholarships are available, so the math is pretty simple.

Although there are no seniors, some Rainbows may have played (or mostly watched) their final home game at the Sheriff Center last night.

It wasn't quite the traditional senior shot, but Jonathon Button, who graduates in business management in the fall, stepped up and made the halfcourt shot at the buzzer, winning an interisland trip during a second-half marketing promotion.

“;Cool,”; said Button, when told the hoops team has no seniors. “;Celebrate me.”;

Why not? There was little else for UH to revel in last night.