UH players praise Nash, while awaiting their next head coach Leaving 'a place I love'
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
After receiving the blessing from its former coach, the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is now ready to make the transition to its new coach.
Who that new coach will be and how much the Rainbow Warriors can improve from this season's 10-20 record remains to be seen.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what the future is for us," said forward Bill Amis, who redshirted this season with a foot injury, but will return as a senior next season.
Bob Nash, who was terminated as head coach of the 'Bows on Monday morning, met with the team Monday evening to express his appreciation and gratitude.
"He just wanted to say thank you to all of his assistants and everyone that's helped him," Amis said. "It was pretty emotional. It was a really good speech."
Amis and junior point guard Hiram Thompson said they understood the decision not to retain Nash, who had one year remaining on his contract.
"I guess that's how it is, coaches need to have the wins. That's what is seen," Thompson said. "But Coach Nash is a great guy and does a lot of things that the record doesn't show."
Amis added: "He's a good mentor and a good man who has made a lot of us better people. But sometimes wins and losses matter more."
An advisory committee has already been formed by Hawai'i athletic director Jim Donovan to help aid with the search for Nash's successor.
"We're anxious to see who's going to be the new coach," said Thompson, the only starter eligible to return next season. "No matter who the new coach is, the players are going to keep working hard, even though we're going to have a new coach."
At the same time, Thompson said he was "pretty upset" when the announcement of Nash's firing was made on Monday.
"There was a lot of talk throughout the year, especially toward the end, that he was going to be let go, but it wasn't until (Monday) that it really hit me," Thompson said. "For me, it was definitely sad, but everybody has to move forward."
Eleven players — including the redshirts and walk-ons — are eligible to return next season: Amis, Thompson, Zane Johnson, Dwain Williams, Rykin Enos, Beau Albrechtson, Jeremy Lay, Leroy Lutu Jr., Ji Xiang, Aleksandar Milovic and Douglas Kurtz.
"I think for the most part, everyone's going to come back, everyone I talked to," Amis said. "There's a couple cases that are still up in the air."
The program also has one incoming recruit in California high school guard Jordan Coleman. However, Coleman can opt to seek a release from his letter of intent because of the coaching change.
The new Hawai'i coach will have at least four scholarships to fill.
A new coach might also mean entirely new offensive and defensive schemes for the 'Bows to learn.
"I played in a lot of different systems growing up, so we'll see what the new coach has, and I think we'll all be able to pick it up fast," Amis said.
Thompson will be playing for his third head coach at Hawai'i next season. He played as a freshman under Riley Wallace, then returned after serving a two-year church mission to play for Nash.
His advice for the new coach?
"Gain a good relationship with each player and know them individually and how to adapt to each person's needs," he said.
FIVE TO HELP WITH SEARCH
Hawai'i athletic director Jim Donovan announced a five-member advisory committee for the selection of the next head coach. The committee members are:
Peter Ho, president and Chief Banking Officer for Bank of Hawaii and director of 'Ahahui Koa Anuenue;
Bert Kobayashi, senior partner of Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda and former chair of 'Ahahui Koa Anuenue;
Ernest Nishizaki, president of Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts and director of 'Ahahui Koa Anuenue;
Maryann Sacharski, director of sales of Oceanic Time Warner Cable, director of 'Ahahui Koa Anuenue, and former president of the UH Letterwinners Club;
Tom Schroeder, professor and director of UH's Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, former chair of the faculty senate and member of the Athletic Advisory Board.