Wallace happy to help Hawaii


POSTED: Monday, March 15, 2010

Riley Wallace's days of helping the Hawaii men's basketball program aren't over.

The former UH coach has other responsibilities now, including chairing the selection committee for the second-year Tournament. But that hasn't prevented him from fielding calls on the coaching vacancy created with the firing of his old right-hand man, Bob Nash.

A lot of calls.

“;I've talked to a lot of people who've called me to ask me about the job,”; said Wallace, who coached UH for 20 years. “;(Former UH assistant and current Pittsburgh coach) Jamie Dixon and I have talked, because we're both concerned about the job and the future of it and where it's going. Some ex-players have given calls. And then coaches who want the job. I'd say I'm right there. I had business 4 or 5 hours with (UH athletic director) Jim Donovan about it.”;

Wallace said Southern Miss associate head coach Steve Barnes has applied. The former San Jose State head coach also had assistant stints at current Western Athletic Conference schools Idaho and Utah State.


He said Northern Colorado coach Tad Boyle is also interested. Boyle's Bears (24-7) play Portland in the CIT first round.

Donovan said yesterday the number of applications had reached “;35 to 40.”; The open-ended application window means more could be added to the mix until a hire is announced.

The process is expected to extend into next week as Donovan and his five-person advisory committee venture forth to interview candidates. Mainland meetings are a possibility.

In the meantime, Wallace says he's given advice, but not to UH—besides passing interested names along.

Like a protective father, he's made it a duty to make sure potential suitors are up to snuff.

“;You can call and ask any coach out there and ask what they think of the Hawaii job, and they'll tell you it was one of the toughest ones to go for,”; Wallace said. “;They know how tough it is with (other jobs) when they can just take a bus ride or a Southwest Airlines 30-minute flight ... where we have all the travel, and things you have to do for recruiting and games and everything else.

“;It is a tough job, and that's one of the things I relate to the coaches coming in there. And if they understand how tough it is and how hard it will be for them, and time-consuming, and they have to be willing to put that kind of time and effort in. 'Cause I care about the program and I want to see it going.”;

Wallace said he's spoken at length to Nash, who hasn't returned Star-Bulletin calls for comment since his termination last Monday.

UH's winningest coach (334) won't endorse a specific person to fill the job, but had high praise for known applicant Kyle Smith, the Saint Mary's associate head coach, and Barnes.

“;As good a background as you could possibly look at for an assistant coach,”; Wallace said of Smith, noting that a candidate the caliber of Randy Bennett, the head coach of the NCAA Tournament-bound Gaels, was out of UH's price range.

“;I know they're not going to get anybody of his stature for under $500,000 base salary,”; he said.

The current UH basketball salary range is $185,000 to $400,000, but the school can elect to go up to $500,000 without Board of Regents approval.