For the love of hoops

Bobby Curran
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Friday - January 26, 2007
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Every industry has its entry level position. At a film studio, it’s the mail room. In a restaurant, you’re the pot scrubber. But for college basketball coaches, the low man on the totem pole has a grand sounding title: director of basketball operations.

Sounds like it might fit in somewhere between athletic director and head coach. In reality, here is the job description: Do every bit of scut work that nobody else is willing to do, and by the way, you are prohibited from recruiting, scouting or coaching on the floor. The pay is lousy and the hours are long.

But it’s about the only route into the coaching business.

For Eran Ganot, it is the first part of his basketball dream. Ganot is in his first year at UH following three years in the same position at St Mary’s. And it’s just enough to feed his addiction.

Ganot, 25, is a basketball junkie. The son of a Romanian immigrant father and Israeli immigrant mother, Ganot and his twin brother Araf were encouraged by their dad, Mickey, who loved his soccer. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Philadelphia,the twins were fixtures on the courts. When they moved to Bergen County in northern New Jersey for high school, they resolved to bring Tenafly High School its first league title in 32 years.

As seniors they made it happen. But during his junior year, Eran hurt his back and played through it. The twins split up for college. Araf chose Division III basketball powerhouse Franklin and Marshall, where he starred before playing professionally in Brazil.

Eran selected academically elite Swarthmore, where he started at all five positions until the recurring back injury nearly ended his career after his junior season. Against the advice of his doctor and trainers, Ganot played his senior year with a heavy brace. After his final game, the consummate gym rat took off his brace and decided to feed his passion by coaching.

He sent e-mails to 200 coaches around the country asking for advice. He worked the summer camps for a number of them, and finally landed an interview with St. Mary’s head coach Randy Bennet.

“I told him it was a volunteer position, meaning no pay, no meals, no housing and no car,” says Bennet, “and that I’d work him like he was making $60,000. I told him to think about it, and he said no need, he was coming to California to get started. He’s a little crazy; he has no other interests. But every coach wants a guy like him on their staff.”

Ganot remembers the day that he got the job offer from St. Mary’s. It came shortly after he’d landed a job at an investment bank at an excellent salary. He was home and his parents could see his excitement as he took the phone call from Bennet.

“My father saw I was practically turning cartwheels I was so excited. He asked what it paid and I yelled,‘Zero! Nothing!‘He thought I was nuts.”

Three years later, he heard about an opening with the Rainbow Warriors. The UH job actually had a modest salary, so Ganot packed up and moved to Hawaii.

“Every school wants you to do different things,“says Ganot.“At St. Mary’s it was film exchange, video editing, academic support and scheduling.At UH,I do all the travel including air, ground transportation, team meals and practice times as well as player housing and administering summer camp.”

While Ganot feels he’s ready for an assistant job, he knows that he’s learning something every day.

“Everything I get to do benefits me,” says Ganot. “If somebody doesn’t want to do something, I tell them to give it to me.”

That work ethic is not lost on his current boss, UH head coach Riley Wallace.

“We’ve had some good ones in that spot, but he’s the best,” says Wallace.

“He has no hobbies,no girlfriend, and no interests besides basketball. He loves the game; it’s his life.”

Ganot aspires to be a head coach some day, but knows it’s a process.

“My best chance to reach my goals is to do the best job I can every day,“says Ganot.“It’s really simple. One step at a time!”

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