Winning 'more important than ever before' Bottom line dooms Nash
Contenders lining up to replace UH’s Nash
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
It was not a surprise that Bob Nash was not retained as the University of Hawai'i's head basketball coach.
But there was widespread disappointment that there was no happily-ever-after ending for a man who spent 31 years in the program as a player, associate head coach and head coach.
Here are some of the reactions:
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann:
"We're definitely losing a class act. I feel for Bob. He was handicapped from the beginning because he was hired so late. Everybody knew he should be the coach, but he was hired late. That really hurt recruiting. From the beginning, he was swimming upstream. He was in a difficult situation. And you never know with injuries. His teams were hit with a rash of injuries. That made it tough for him. Bob is a personal friend. He's a class act. I know Bob will bounce back. I hope it happens quickly, because we need Bob to be involved in basketball. He's a good coach, and an even greater person."
Larry Beil, former UH play-by-play announcer:
"It's unfortunate. It would have been nice had it worked out, given his many years of service to the school. Bob is as good a person as you'd want running a program. It just comes down to wins and losses. Fundamentally, the real challenge for whoever coaches the UH basketball team is finding a way to develop a recruiting pipeline that can be sustained, not just one year or two years, but where you really have the program rolling. Because trying to sign top junior-college guys and random players from around the country, it's impossible to build a program like that. Unfortunately, there aren't enough local high school players to sustain a Division I program. ... Jim (Donovan) did the right thing, from a commitment standpoint in giving him the opportunity. Now they have to look outside the state and really search for a candidate who can really re-energize the program."
Artie Wilson, K5 basketball analyst and former Fabulous Five teammate:
"It's unfortunate that Bob didn't have the success that he and everybody else wanted him to have. I think Jim was put in a position where he felt he had to make a tough call, probably the most difficult he had to make as an athletic director. There were a lot of unusual things that happened during the three years Nash was in charge of the program. There were a lot of injuries, a lot of things that were out of his control that impacted the program he wanted to put out there. It's unfortunate he wasn't given the same amount of time others were given to build a program. There were a lot of people who were given more time, people whose records weren't that much greater than Bob's percentage-wise. But times are different now. The economy is different. The state of the state and the state of the university are much different. Winning has become more important than ever before. People have limited resources. They're limited each month on what to spend on entertainment and sports. They won't spend if you're not winning. That's one of the byproducts of a tough national situation."
Alika Smith, former UH player and assistant coach and current Punahou coach:
"It's unfortunate that it happened this way. You want alumni to succeed. He's been there for 30 years. When you put your heart and soul into something and it doesn't work out, it hurts. I wish him and his family well."
Riley Wallace, former UH head coach:
"First of all, when I signed that last contract, they knew two years in advance I wasn't going to be there. (Former UH athletic director Herman Frazier) also knew Bob Nash deserved the chance to be head coach. (Frazier) had plenty of time to hire him and let him recruit. He hired him too late. We never lost a player from Salt Lake City College that we wanted. The 6-10 center goes to Utah State because we took so long (to hire Nash). If Bob got the job where he had time to recruit, he would have had a winning record that first year. Then he could have recruited to a winning record. This year, he had bad breaks, with the injuries. He didn't have the players (available). The poor start helped make for the tough finish. At the time, nobody they could have hired was more dedicated to the program and the university and the state than Bob Nash. He gave it his best shot. The way things are now, it's not good enough. You have to sell tickets. They didn't have enough to get that. For whatever reason, Jim had to make the move. I would have liked to have seen Bob finish out, but I understand. Bob is a good man and a good coach."
Dave Shoji, UH women's volleyball coach:
"I feel bad for Bob. He is a quality and class guy. I know that when I would pop my head into practice he always had a positive attitude. He worked hard through to the last week, really hard. But I think all us coaches understand the complexities of the job and understand that this is a reality at any time."
Dana Takahara-Dias, UH women's basketball coach:
"Coach Nash, he's a dear friend to our entire program. His entire staff has been helpful as we transitioned this year. We're thankful of the time we had to work with them."Ann Miller and Stanley Lee contributed to this report.