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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2010

Fast-break hire gives hope to recruiting

By Ferd Lewis

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Gib Arnold

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Near the end of his introductory press conference Saturday, new University of Hawai'i men's basketball coach Gib Arnold noted, "I'm chomping at the bit to hit the ground running (for recruiting)."

With a sense of urgency, Arnold said, "We've got 25 days until signing day, so we have a lot of work to do now."

Indeed he does, but that he might even have time to make a dent in the 'Bows' recruiting needs is remarkable at a school where history shows that coaching changes often are made with the speed of molasses.

While the time until the April 14 beginning of the signing period is less than ideal, it is still about four weeks more than his predecessor, Bob Nash, had upon assuming command in 2007.

When then-athletic director Herman Frazier finally got around to naming Nash on April 14, it was already two days into the signing period and a couple of players the 'Bows had real shots at had long given up waiting.

Which means we can always wonder if Nash had received the benefit of some additional weeks would there even be a new UH coach right now?

Arnold's hiring was accomplished in seven days from the close of the mandatory advertisement period, a process that might have set records for alacrity at Mānoa, especially when hiring an off-island candidate and running what we're told was an extensive NCAA background check.

The hiring of football coach Greg McMackin, which was completed in a comparative blur by UH standards, just nine days by Mānoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw and interim athletic director Carl Clapp. And, McMackin was an in-house candidate who needed no NCAA or educational vetting and to only take the stairs to his job interview.

So, when current athletic director Jim Donovan repeatedly said he would move "expeditiously" in filling the basketball vacancy, he not only sent skeptics running to the dictionary but also out to get stopwatches.

Anyone who has ever waded into the jungle that is the bureaucratic process at Mānoa knows the best of intentions and urgent causes can die agonizingly slow deaths there.

That's in the best of times. And heaven help things if there is something to complicate the process, such as when there are additional issues to be checked out like whether Arnold's name turned up in the NCAA or University of Southern California investigations into the O.J. Mayo case. (UH has said it was advised that Arnold was not a figure in either investigation).

Despite that, somehow, Donovan negotiated the levels of bureaucracy and won speed-up assistance from the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which agreed to sign off on an expedited five-day window of advertising the position.

In accepting his new position Arnold called it a "dream come true," one no less remarkable around UH where "fast break" and "hiring" process were words too long unassociated with each other.