A new chapter of Hawaii men’s basketball begins on Thursday.
Eran Ganot will be introduced as the Rainbow Warriors’ new coach, the 21st in program history.
This is a position Ganot sought for some time, even at his young age of 33 — his youth is a little deceptive when you consider he’s been a coach pretty much since his playing days at Swarthmore came to an end.
He’s spoken about how he would only want to coach at a place he felt a special meaning and connection, and UH is on that short list. His regular trips back to the islands over the last several summers back that up.
Ganot’s choice over interim coach Benjy Taylor has certainly set some folks off, as a listen to local sports radio or perusal of message boards will testify. Ultimately, it went beyond the many on-court successes for Taylor and the 2014-15 Rainbows (more on that in Thursday’s print edition), but they should still be saluted for what they accomplished.
Now, who stays, and who goes?
First, Ganot will have to assemble a staff of his own. He may consider elements of the current crew — Senque Carey, Brandon Loyd, Brad Autry and Jamie Smith — or bring in a totally new group from the outside. Associate head coach and regular assistant positions were posted on the “Work at UH” site on Wednesday.
Of course, player movement is a distinct possibility when you’ve got a regime change. You can bet that Ganot will make speaking to the team a top priority upon his arrival, and try to retain as much of the team as he can. UH has a young core that, as Taylor said many times, can do some really positive things if it sticks together for the long haul.
Well, it may be unrealistic to keep everyone.
Freshman guard Isaac Fleming gave the most overt indications that he may elect to move on. This is not a huge surprise, as Fleming was seen as incredibly loyal to Taylor, the coach who brought him into UH, and has a redshirt year to burn. Nothing is a certainty yet, however.
But by and large the team kept quiet as the news broke on Wednesday. You might expect some to attend Ganot’s presser Thursday, class schedules permitting. Indications were some were amenable to a new coach coming on board.
Many of you are not yet familiar with Ganot. He was the third assistant, and quite young, the last time he worked at UH under Bob Nash and through some of the transition to Gib Arnold. Those teams did not enjoy rampant success on the court, though Ganot was hailed for his tireless work ethic at the time. Jordan Coleman was to be one of his first signature recruits at UH, but Ganot landed softly at Saint Mary’s once Nash was dismissed. Coleman didn’t last long under Arnold, transferred to a junior college, and ended up having a productive three-year career at Valparaiso.
Now Ganot has a chance to build something in his own image. He’ll draw from his mentors, Riley Wallace and Randy Bennett, but things will inevitably take their own shape under this first-time head coach.
He will really start to shape opinions the moment he takes the podium and speaks at the Stan Sheriff’s Wong room Thursday morning at 9 a.m. Hawaiiathletics.com plans to have a live stream running, as will KKEA 1420-AM radio.