Coach Of The Year? It’s UH’s Nash
Wednesday - February 27, 2008
As a player back in the Fab 5 days of the 1970s, Hawaii’s Bob Nash was a classic achiever. He not only averaged a double-double for his career in Manoa (a stat that wasn’t well-known then), but he also set records for rebounding that will never be broken.
Let’s face it, who do you know who will ever grab 30 rebounds in one game?
But that was Nash, the player. Now, as a first-year head coach, Nash has suddenly become a classic over-achiever.
What else could you call him after this first season? First, he was given absolutely no help by the man who eventually hired him, the recently fired and very much under-achieving athletic director. There were people around the basketball world who said that Nash’s late hiring could cost the Hawaii program at least two years, maybe three, to catch up.
If that weren’t challenging enough, the Bows ran into a plethora of problems in the early part of this season - from injuries to lack of depth to suspensions. It wasn’t surprising at all to recognize why Nash’s first team was struggling - it was like they had a black cloud flying over their heads. Somewhere along this difficult journey, they lost all three games at the Rainbow Classic. Yikes! Fans stayed away in droves, as the WAC season appeared to be an impending ride on the outbound Titanic.
But somewhere in a potentially 30-point road loss at Boise State, Nash rallied his troops.
“We called a timeout and people thought I was crazy, but we talked about what we needed to accomplish, and then the players started diving for loose balls and really getting after it,” Nash recalls.
His underachieving players had suddenly caught the old Nash fire. If you can picture this scenario, they all started to play like he used to. They fought for every board, they dove for every loose ball, they looked for every edge they could get. They achieved!
And the Bows - the team virtually given up for dead a few weeks earlier - started to do the improbable: They started to win.
They didn’t always win pretty, and they didn’t always win on the road. But they picked themselves off of the mat, and they put some improbable victories together. Perhaps the biggest was a comeback from a 12-point deficit against then league-leading Utah State in which the ‘Bows came from behind to whip the Aggies and knock them clear into third place.
“We may not always play smart, but we always work hard,” Nash says.
Suddenly, the team given up for practically dead and buried, was being considered in the mix for a shot at one of the top seeds in the upcoming WAC tournament. Nobody, not even Nash, saw that coming.
“We’re like a family,” he says. “Sometimes we’re dysfunctional, but we find a way to come together.”
And coming together is what Nash’s “sometimes dysfunctional” team will do one last time at the Stan Sheriff Center this week. The Bows host Idaho on Thursday night, Feb. 28, and now-conference-leading Boise State for Senior Night, Saturday March 1.
“We have seven seniors who will be honored,” Nash says. “It would be great if the fans could come out to honor them.”
And it would also be great to come out to honor the over-achieving head coach who some said would never get it done. Well, guess what? Nash is getting it done - somehow, someway, and to the delight of fans who are starting to make their way back into the home arena.
This incredible turnaround season is an example of one more rebound that Bob Nash will put in the record books for all time.
Good job, Coach!
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