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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Arnold enjoying fast-break start

By Ferd Lewis

The man who is currently one of the biggest basketball coaching bargains in America paused for a deep breath, which was notable in itself.

In a whirlwind 44 days on the job but who has had time to count? the University of Hawai'i's Gib Arnold has had a hand in signing seven recruits for the upcoming season and is already working on players for the 2011-12 campaign, all with a skeleton coaching staff.

Oh, and by the way, Arnold has yet to receive his first UH pay check.

"I think that comes on, maybe, the fifth (of May)," Arnold said.

Not that there is a plaintive word to be heard on that score or anything else from the 41-year-old Arnold, UH's youngest man in the job in decades.

"It has been a lot of fun," Arnold said sounding as though it really had. "Whenever you build something, it takes a lot of work."

"My impression is that he's having the most fun of his career," said athletic director Jim Donovan. "He works long days until he is exhausted and gets up the next morning thinking, 'This is the kind of situation I've worked for all my (career).' "

Said Arnold, "It is probably a good thing he hasn't seen me until after I've had my first malasada."

Whether Arnold figured on a steady diet of 18-20 hour days for the first six weeks, spending more time flying over his family home in Los Angeles than in it, is anybody's guess. But it is doubtful he thought he'd be carrying the recruiting class with, essentially, only one other helping hand.

To date it has pretty much been holdover assistant and fellow workaholic Eran Ganot and Arnold doing the recruiting since only one assistant, Walter Roese, has signed on, and Roese spent much of the time out of the country coaching Brazil's national team. "I said I'd be a recruiting head coach, so that's OK," Arnold said.

Two more assistant positions remain to be filled and one of them is eventually expected to be current Brigham Young-Hawai'i assistant coach Brandyn Akana.

Kevin Nickelberry, ex-Hampton head coach, was supposed to have been Arnold's second assistant hire. But when his mentor, Oliver Purnell, got the job at DePaul, Nickelberry vacillated .

"He's a good friend of mine and we talked it over," Arnold said. "He said he was about 80 percent committed to coming here and I told him, 'It has to be all or nothing' and encouraged him to move on."

A week later, Nickelberry left DePaul to become the head coach at Howard, proving the wisdom of Arnold's ultimatum.

When it comes to the UH job, especially now, "It has to be a total commitment," Arnold maintains.

Just like the head coach puts in, apparently.