Nashes have built 'fabulous' relationship
|Video: Father and son team up at University of Hawaii|
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
It's 11 on a Monday night, and the thump-thump-thump of a basketball bouncing on an empty court resonates out of Gym II on the otherwise quiet University of Hawai'i campus.
Inside the gym, Bobby Nash is working on his jump shot. His father, Bob Nash, diligently retrieves every shot — make or miss — and fires a pass back at Bobby for the next attempt.
"It's always been like that with us," Bobby said. "If I need help with something, my dad will be there anytime, anywhere. Basketball or life in general."
Bobby is the starting small forward for the Hawai'i men's basketball team, a 6-foot-6 junior who is averaging 10.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Bob is the associate coach for the Rainbow Warriors, and a former star player on the legendary "Fabulous Five" UH teams of the early 1970s.
This is their 22nd year as father and son (Bobby was born on Aug. 21, 1984), and their fourth season as coach and player (Bobby is a fourth-year junior because he redshirted last season).
"We have a very close father-son relationship," Bob said. "But when we're in the gym with the team, he's no different from any of the other players. There are 15 guys on the team who I try to be fair to."
Still, Bobby has made significant strides in each of his seasons at UH, and he said his father has something to do with it. As a freshman, he averaged 1.8 points and 0.9 rebounds per game; as a sophomore, he improved to 6.2 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
"Just being around my dad helps; he has a wealth of knowledge," Bobby said. "Anything from breaking down game film, to working on my shot."
It started more than a dozen years ago, when Bobby would accompany his father to UH practices, even on the road.
"I remember going with the team to Colorado and Wyoming," Bobby said. "The (players) would be practicing at one basket and I'd run over to the other side and get my shots in."
Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said he has witnessed the growth in both Bob and Bobby over the years.
"It's not just that they're father-son and coach-player," Wallace said. "They're actually really good friends, and I think that's what makes it work for both of them. It's really nice to see a relationship like that develop."
Off the court, Bob and Bobby have similar traits. Both are gentleman — soft-spoken, eloquent and polite. On the court, the only similarity might be jersey No. 33.
Bobby is considered a shooter with the versatility to play multiple positions. Wallace said Bobby might be the only player on the team who could play any of the five positions, if needed.
Bob was a rebounding monster during his days as with the 'Bows. He averaged 12.9 rebounds per game as a junior, and 14.4 as a senior. Those are still the two greatest rebounding seasons by a player in the UH record books.
"I would say (Bobby) is more skilled than I was," Bob said. "I had a pretty one-dimensional game. Somebody would miss, I would get the rebound and put it back in. Pretty soon, people think I'm a good shooter because I had a high percentage. But I was so close to the basket, my game was different.
"(Bobby) can play inside and play outside. He does a lot of different things that I couldn't do at his age."
FUTURE WITH OPTIONS
The 'Bows have three more regular-season games remaining this season, including Saturday's road game at San Jose State. Hawai'i is 15-12 overall and 5-8 in the Western Athletic Conference.
For the Nash family, it has been a tumultuous season, and not just because of the team's inconsistent play.
In December, Wallace announced his retirement as Hawai'i head coach, effective at the end of this season. He endorsed Bob Nash as his successor.
But athletic director Herman Frazier said Nash must apply for the position through the same process as any other candidate.
"I'm obviously concerned about my future, but it's not weighing heavily on me right at this moment," Bob said. "I'm still focusing on this team and helping this team win as many games as possible."
Bob said he will apply for the Hawai'i head coach's job. "When the time comes, I will go through the process," he said. "We'll see what happens after that."
Bobby could be in a wait-and-see situation as well.
He will graduate this May with a major in political science and minor in history. That gives him a significant option, should his father not get the head coach's job next season.
As a graduate student, Bobby would be allowed to transfer to any other NCAA program next season and become eligible immediately.
"My own biased opinion is that Coach Nash should get the job," Bobby said. "But I can't think about what might and might not happen. If he doesn't get it, at least I'll have options."
In any case, it would be a family decision.
Bobby has a close relationship not just with his father, but with his mother, Domelynne, and older sister, Erika.
Unlike the other players on the team, Bobby does not reside on campus. He lives with his parents in their Hawai'i Kai home.
"At home, his mom is his coach," Bob said. "She lets him know all the time what he's doing right and what he's doing wrong. And if he wants to eat and get his clothes done, he'd better listen."
Bobby said: "My mom's a tough cookie and I love her for it. She's been coming to my games ever since I was a little kid, so she probably knows my game better than my dad."
He also gets advice from his girlfriend, Sarah Mason, who just completed her senior season with the Hawai'i women's volleyball team.
"She watches all my games, and she's text-messaging me as soon as it's over," Bobby said. "But I was doing the same to her during volleyball season."
Regardless of what happens next season — or the rest of this season — Bob and Bobby will endure. Anytime, anywhere.
Bobby said: "Whenever we talk as a family, the one thing my dad always tells us is, 'We're Nashes. We'll get through this.' "
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org.