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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 20, 2003

Wilton has fond memories of BYU

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer


WHAT: Hawai'i vs. Brigham Young University

WHERE: Smith Fieldhouse, Provo, Utah

WHEN: Today, 3:45 p.m. Hawai'i time

RADIO: Live on 1420-AM

The plan was in motion.

Last May, with a national championship icing a 10-year tenure at the University of Hawai'i, Mike Wilton was prepared to return to his alma mater and succeed his mentor as men's volleyball coach at Brigham Young University.

But soon after returning from an interview with BYU athletic director Val Hale, Wilton crumpled the blueprint, opting to remain at UH, even though his contract had lapsed. He eventually signed a three-year contract with UH.

"I can tell you that I love this university up here," Wilton said during yesterday's afternoon walk through the Provo, Utah, campus. "I had a wonderful experience as an undergraduate at BYU-Hawai'i and as a graduate student at BYU. I'll always have good feelings about this university. It just didn't work out that I come here. That's it. There are no regrets."

It was believed that Wilton, 58, was Hale's top choice to replace the retiring Carl McGown. Wilton had served as an assistant coach under McGown. What's more, Wilton is a high priest in the Mormon Church, which administers BYU.

Of the presumption that Wilton would accept the BYU job, he said, "That's the thing about people and opinions. Opinions are like noses. Everyone's got one. What mattered the most is what my wife and I thought. If I'm going to coach men's volleyball, it'll be at UH."

The Warriors play matches against BYU tonight and tomorrow night, and this is Wilton's first time in Provo since the job interview.

"It's colder now," he said. "There's snow on the mountains. It's beautiful, clear. The last time I was here was in an interview situation. It was quite warm then."

He paused, then added, "I have no second thoughts."

Instead, he is focused on an opponent that flourishes in the 2,000-seat Smith Fieldhouse, where most of the fans are students. The Warriors arrived in Provo Tuesday morning, allowing enough time to practice twice in the fieldhouse.

The extra practice was needed to adjust to Provo's high altitude, which supposedly causes a struck volleyball to sail more than it would if it were hit at sea level.

"BYU likes to expound on that topic," Wilton said. "The ball does sail a bit, but that's cured by two practices. We figured that out in 30 minutes of (Tuesday) night's practice."

Wilton said the key is to "put more spin on the ball when you serve it." He said passing and hitting can be adjusted easily.

"One practice is sufficient," he said.

Wilton said UH middle blocker Joshua Stanhiser did not practice Tuesday because of a sinus headache compounded by the airplane flight.

"He should be ready to play," Wilton said.