Arnold already ahead of schedule
By Ferd Lewis
Of all the handshakes, pats on the back and well-wishes that Gib Arnold received upon taking the University of Hawai'i men's head basketball coaching job, the best welcome to date has come from his predecessor, Bob Nash.
Nash left him the beginnings of a friendly schedule.
The cupboards might be skeletally thin of talent at the moment, but at least there isn't a meatgrinder of opponents awaiting the Rainbow Warriors.
A schedule with games against Montana State and Central Michigan already booked — and contracts for a couple more opponents of similar strength said to be on the way — sure qualifies as a great office-warming present.
To be sure there is a chance of drawing Butler or Baylor in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. There is definitely a game with Brigham Young in Salt Lake City as part of a two-game non-conference road trip with Cal Poly. And, playing the Cougars little more than a 3-point shot from Temple Square is no picnic for the returning son of an ex-BYU coach.
Still, the soon-to-be-assembled lineup of opponents figures to be a far cry from the headaches women's head coach Dana Takahara-Dias inherited in her first season.
Hired barely five months before the tipoff of the 2009-10 season, much of Takahara's non-conference schedule was done on the fly in the 10th and 11th hours and at the mercy of anyone who would take UH's calls.
And little was extended. The Rainbow Wahine's first two games were on the road against NCAA Tournament-bound teams, including a 98-52 rout at UCLA.
In a 10-20 season, half the Rainbow Wahine's games came against teams that reached the postseason, earning UH the distinction of having the toughest strength of schedule in the Western Athletic Conference the hard way.
Meanwhile, we are told there are six pukas on the men's schedule for 2010-11 and contracts pending for some of them.
But Arnold said he has few worries about being able to fill them. "All my friends (in the coaching fraternity) are calling — they all say they want to play us this season," Arnold said.
"I'm not so sure that's a good thing," he added.
Thankfully, he won't have to take many up on their offers since his predecessor left him with few slots to fill.