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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shoji's successor could be close by

 •  Wong named Wahine associate coach


By Ferd Lewis

One of the worst-kept secrets recently was that the University of Hawai'i was going to name Scott Wong as the new associate coach for women's volleyball.

Only here, perhaps, could the naming of an assistant volleyball coach be the stuff of anticipated news and a subject of a media session.

But, then, nowhere else do they lead the nation in attendance for 16 consecutive years, either.

Precisely because of the degree of fervent interest that head coach Dave Shoji's program has built up over the past 35 years people are coming to inspect his hirings looking for a clue as to whom his eventual successor might be.

Shoji is 63 and, for all his youthful exuberance, sometime in the next few years he is going to call it a career.

The timing will be Shoji's call and a contract was extended through 2014, according to UH officials, in large part to grant him just that option.

One of these days he is going to wander out to a golf course and stay there through two-a-days and the start of the season.

By the time he's ready to do that UH might want to have a successor or a candidate in place to ease the transition and maintain a postseason level that UH volleyball and its fans have become accustomed.

Few UH coaches have been able to name their eventual successors, though many have tried, huffing and puffing mightily in the process. But, again, this is Wahine volleyball, and going on four decades Shoji's sway is such that he might just be the one to pull it off.

So the line of succession is a topic for speculation that is never very far from the surface when staff changes are brewing. Especially lately when the departure of Mike Sealy for UCLA's head coaching job left a prime opening.

Shoji's proteges have been going on to head coaching jobs and it stands to reason one of them could be positioned to do it here.

Wong, a Punahou School alum and former Pepperdine All-American, spent 2006 at UH as a volunteer assistant and has had full-time positions at Pepperdine and, most recently, was associate head coach for the women at the University of San Francisco.

Wong was a finalist for the UH men's job that went to Charlie Wade and, we're told, came "strongly" recommended by Shoji. Wade, a longtime assistant to Shoji before becoming head women's coach at Pacific and returning as the UH men's coach, is also worth keeping an eye on.

When the Shoji Era eventually winds down, if somebody plays their cards right, could there be any better place to be than next to him on the bench?