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The Honolulu Advertiser

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Posted on: Saturday, February 13, 2010

Red Rocha, UH's Fabulous Five coach, dies at 86

 • Fabulous Five captivated state
Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Former University of Hawai‘i basketball coach Red Rocha, seen in this 1993 file photo, led the Rainbows to two national tournament apperances in the early 1970s.


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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

When Bob Nash became University of Hawai‘i basketball coach in 2007, Red Rocha and the "Fabulous Five" reunited in the Crown Room at the Plaza Club. From left are Jerome Freeman, John Penebacker, Al Davis, Dwight Holiday, Rocha and Nash.


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Ephraim “Red” Rocha, who coached the University of Hawai‘i’s “Fabulous Five” men’s basketball teams during the program’s most successful period in the early 1970s, died today at his home in Corvallis, Ore., after a three-year battle with cancer, the school announced. He was 86.

Rocha’s 1970-71 squad advanced to the National Invitation Tournament in New York and the 1971-72 team earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The “Fabulous Five” teams — led by Al Davis, Jerome Freeman, Dwight Holiday, John Penebacker and Bob Nash — became statewide heroes, compiling a 47-8 record during the two seasons. Nash is the current coach of the Rainbow Warriors.
Rocha, who was 112-136 in 10 seasons at UH, also helped create the Rainbow Classic basketball tournament, which became one of the premier holiday tournaments in the country.
Rocha, who was born and raised in Hilo, began his college basketball career at UH before transferring to Oregon State. The 6-foot-9 center-forward was a three-time All-Pacific Coast Conference selection, and named an All-American in 1947 while leading the Beavers to the NCAA Tournament.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Rocha played professional basketball, and represented the Baltimore Bullets in the first NBA All-Star Game in 1951. He won a championship with the Syracuse Nationals in 1955. He scored 6,362 points in his playing career. He served as coach for the Detroit Pistons from 1958 to 1960.
Rocha was inducted into the University of Hawai`i Sports Circle of Honor in 1986. He is also a member of the Hawai`i Sports Hall of Fame, the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, the Oregon State University Sports Hall of Fame, the Pac-10 Hall of Honor and the WAC Court of Honor.
Rocha is survived by his daughters, Kay Mosher, Cheryl Narver and Terry Bannon;
nine grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and seven great great grandchildren.
He is also survived by Molly Bloomfield, who has been his partner for the
past five years. Rocha's wife, Ginger, passed away in 2004, just one week from what
would have been their 58th wedding anniversary, according to Narver.
Services are Feb. 20 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Corvallis, with a
celebration of life to follow at The Club House at Adair Village.

Information from the University of Hawai‘i was used in this report.