Handy has interest

You knew it wasn’t just going to be Benjy Taylor vying for the long-term Hawaii basketball job.

Once UH posted the job on Wednesday, speculation began in earnest about who would come forward with interest in the post.

One of the first people to do so is Phil Handy, the former Rainbow Warriors guard (1993-94 and 1994-95) who has found success in the NBA as a player development coach, first with the Los Angeles Lakers and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“As an alumni of Hawaii, I always have love for the school,” said Handy, 43, when reached by phone on Thursday. “To be quite honest … I haven’t really thought much about coaching college basketball, but when the job came up I started getting phone calls from different people and I think the calls from other people got me more intrigued about the job than my initial interest. I’ve just had people call me and ask if I was interested, would I coach at Hawaii. Is it something I’m interested in doing.

“Initially, I hadn’t thought much about it. But if the school has interest in me and thinks I’m a good candidate for the job, I would definitely be interested in talking with the school.”

Handy didn’t say if he’s applied yet. The job posting on the UH website is listed to be posted until April 13.

Handy has worked with some of the best in the game — first Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol with the Lakers, and now LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love with the Cavs.

After his UH days, he was a professional player for a decade, domestically and overseas. He then headed up his own training and development company, 94 Feet of Game, for 12 years, and ran a California AAU team along the way. He latched on with the Lakers in 2011.

“Obviously, having the opportunity to work for the Lakers was my first job as an NBA coach. That was an opportunity I (wasn’t) going to pass up,” Handy said. “Hawaii, I kind of feel the same way about being a college coach. Never really been interested (on that level), but I would be interested in the potential opportunity of maybe coaching at my alma mater. That’s a little different feel because it has more of a personal touch.”

He was a key part of the 1994 NCAA Tournament team, making the WAC All-Newcomer team that season.

He said he’s kept tabs on his school over the years, watching games on national TV or online. He expressed some concern about the difficult season the Rainbows just endured.

“I’m still always watching, wondering how the program is doing,” Handy said. “Just being a former player there and having success there, it’s always a part of me wanting to see the school continue to be successful.”


Who would you like to see as a candidate for the UH job? Or, are you content with Taylor at the helm?


  1. Warrior Dog March 27, 2015 4:54 am

    A lot of people are jumping on the Taylor bandwagon but I feel we must look at the available candidates before we make this important decision. He maybe the favorite now but who knows who may apply. We have NCAA rulings that may hamper us but for a new coach it could give him time to develop a good program if the right person is chosen. This is a good team returning it just needs some outside shooting and a power rebounder and it will be a 20 game winner again an some post season possibilities unless some NCAA prevention is on the way.

  2. H-man March 27, 2015 5:05 am

    Phil Handy is a good candidate, but I feel Benjy Taylor has earned his spurs to be given the opportunity to be the next head basketball coach.

  3. poorboy March 27, 2015 5:30 am


    yes, agree with you, lot of ex Hawaii players or coaches with connection to the MBB program, probably will apply as will some retired/fired JC, HS, AAU, DII, DIII coaches, who would like challenge. However That IS THE BIG IF…IF they can handle the Travel, the time zone changes, recruiting to Hawaii, the cost of Living, the local fanbase, the Heat and humidty, The Vog, moving their mate and family, the culture, the smaller salary, UH athletics being in Financil woes, the BWC not even having 2 invitees to NCAA’s if they are worthy, THE NCAA allegations and the length of time suffering through some sanctions.
    He or She has to think really hard, would imagine, it would eliminated about 80% of those on list right off the get go. Benjy Taylor might not be perfect, yet recongnized nationally, by ESPN,FoxSports West, BigWestTV, NBC sports, commentators, and pundits for doing great jot. He is here for a little over 5 months, won 22 , if not for ankle injuries , would have won more games and possibly ,is shot better been in the NCAA tournament.. he has been taking care of his family and living as Kamaaina in Hawaii for over 5 years, so he Gets the culture, AND he as a commit, 24th highest rated JC wing SG in the country, with another one or two bigs waiting to commit soon. Quite , the On the Job resume.
    Benjy, is the Coach, his framing of his resume and how he presents his vision and plan, and ability to work with Matlin and UH, will be key.. Benjy deserves the job, in year One as interim, one of the winningest coaches first year for UH MBB.

  4. Pocho March 27, 2015 5:35 am

    At this point and time with the players on the roster I’m on Taylor’s bus. Has done a pretty good job with all the turmoil going on with the team and the NCAA’s so… .

  5. oldtimer808 March 27, 2015 6:04 am

    Coach Taylor took over a program that could have gone astray. The adversity faced this team was a difficult task for any coach to try to calm the waters and find the right path. Coach Taylor did a remarkable job of getting his young team to play together and believe in itself. I found it exciting to see a team transformed from Gibb’s offensive and defensive schemes to a new attacking style inputted by Coach Taylor with so little time to do so. I believe he deserves the opportunity to continue as our head basketball coach. As the saying goes why fix it when it ain’t broken.

  6. Hon2255 March 27, 2015 6:15 am

    It would be irresponsible for UH not to interview all qualified applicants There should be a good list coming out shortly that Matlin can choose from. Thorough background checks needed and above all character and integrity should count not just wins and losses.

  7. Seawalker March 27, 2015 6:53 am

    The question is not really if U.H. should stick with Benjy or not. The real question is when are they going to fire Norm’s a$$?

    We have another ex-coach waiting in the wings expressing his interest and desire in returning. JJ wants the football HC job. Does anybody remember how exciting the 2007 was? It was a matter of you-can’t-wait-until-next-week’s-game with Colt Brennan and crew. That was exciting and tantalizing. And when they got the Sugar Bowl invite, I’m sure the water-cooler chat at work was non-stop for the month of December. At least it was for me.

    Norm is too old. U.H. needs a change in it’s glory sport. We need to get people in the stands and have 6 of our games televised on ESPN again. We need to be on ABC or CBS once more. The athletic department needs to bleed green and “black”, not green and “red”.

    JJ still has some juice left in his tank. He is not the perfect candidate. People are still emotional about his leaving. But remember, we don’t make decisions based on emotions. We take the elevator to the penthouse and do the thinking upstairs.

    As for the Handy-man or whomever wishes to apply for the b-ball job, forget about it. The AD is already encouraging Benjy to apply. What more can someone need or expect to be given the job? Do it already. Let’s get on with recruiting and get us some more Skywalkers (guys who can actually jump and play basketball).

    The guys on the current team already pledged their support for Benjy. Let’s focus on getting out of the mess with the sanctions charged by the NCAA. Benjy is after 2 other Bigs. Give him the support needed and let him do his job.

    I see us in the NIT next season. 2 or 3 wins in postseason will be a good launching pad into the following season. That’s when the team will be loaded with seniors and will be hungry for something more than the NIT–the big dance, the NCAA tournament.

  8. casual observer March 27, 2015 6:57 am

    No doubt Taylor should be given this chance. Not only as head coach but as assistant he has been instrumental in the Warrior’s success. Additionally, he’s already here, most fans like him and the brand of basketball he brings. More importantly, he seems to genuinely care about his players more than the W-L. No need for more headaches, just allow Taylor to run his course. If it doesn’t work out, then UH can start looking again but he has proven he is more than capable-this includes recruiting.

  9. 808warriorfan March 27, 2015 8:10 am

    My big question about Phil Handy would be in the area of recruiting. What kind of contacts / connections does he have ??? Having worked the pro game w/ guys like Kobe and now LBJ doesn’t equate to success at the college D1 level.

  10. NorthShoreFan March 27, 2015 8:40 am

    Guud Morning Tsaikos…bootiful day.
    Great that Phil Handy is interested in the job. Me thinks Coach Taylor has paid some dues and deserves to run the ship. Hopefully Handy will be willing to serve under Coach Taylor if we have the $’s to entice him over. Would be nice to have him get his feet wet in college coaching first before being a head coach. The college program is not like the pros. Trying to entice high school kids to come an play for you versus paying big $’s is totally different.

    Anyhoo, IMUA WARRIORS!

    ps…no foget next week Saturday…mini Manoa Makeover.

  11. poorboy March 27, 2015 10:17 am


    I never thought about that, some of minimum requirements, maybe exceptions, pro coaching, however I don’t know if Phil coached in any pro level for 5 years, with success. However, I think Benjy could use an assistant to work with Jankovich, Jovanovich, Thomas and hopefully 2 more Big Big JC guys, ..the footwork, the strength, the moves, working inside the point. Thomas, Janks and Jovanovich, have high ceilings, they can be even better. Thomas really a 3/4

    Seawalker: I did not even get that Obvious , probably cryptic message to me, when chancellor, and lame duck AD Jay, Now new hired AD encourage Benjy to apply, they know he has legitimate shot, just have to go through the process, No wonder Benjy had the commit form JC that 24th ranked top JC wing already, heard there might be 2 or 3 JC bigs waiting to commit too. The sooner, if it is Benjy, He has the guys to add to the roster make stronger, just waiting for Benjy to get final okay. Even latest commit, and returnees they are so PC.. they say, support Benjy, he did good job, their families like him, yet they will say “we do not make final decision” so they let the process. Only in Hawaii, the Polynesian Protocol play out.. Benjy you go out and have at least One more BIG verbal commit, can seal the deal for your hire as new HC.. we hoping man.. makes sense.. why start from scratch? Football, hmmm. another story, though they do well in school and only one person booked.

  12. Pocho March 27, 2015 10:23 am

    there are a lot of variables to a successful bb program, my priority for a coach:

    1) recruiting, think it gives you the best chance of winning
    2) make your own choices … .

  13. Fox March 27, 2015 11:53 am

    How about AC? Anthony Carter? A former NBA player who became a assistant coach in the D-League.

  14. chawan_cut March 27, 2015 12:21 pm

    wow, phil, one long sleeve, handy! long time since I’ve heard that name.

  15. bigislandkurt March 27, 2015 12:27 pm

    To even hear things like “we’ve reached out to Benjy,” or “he is to be considered” are certainly safe phrases to keep things in perspective. But in all honesty, what a slap in the face. People can talk about Marijuana-gate, and child support payments and other “character” related stuff. These folks are probably the same ones celebrating Norm Chow for running a “clean” program. Shibai.

    UH gonna look real silly if Benjy is offered a better position somewhere else. Along with player defections, the non-hiring of Benjy could spell doom for any type of momentum we built this year. I do mean “could.” It would take one hell of a coach to come in and be as effective as Benjy has proven to be. This whole “national search” thing leaves a real sour taste in the mouths of his supporters. One win away from the tourney, despite one hell of a crazy off-court year for the squad, and we still wondering if he will be our coach. My goodness, Hire that man.

  16. Derek March 27, 2015 1:15 pm

    I’ll take a contrarian view.
    1) what is Taylor’s record as a Head Coach?
    2) is 8-8 conference record satisfactory?
    3) What about his coaching in the second half blowing leads?
    4) What kind of offensive sets does the offense run?
    5) These are Gib’s recruits.

    The 22-13 overall record is deceiving. Nebraska and Colorado had losing records. Pittsburg was so-so and lost in the first round in the NIT. 5-3 conference at home is average. Should be 7-1 if we are to be a contender and at least 4-4 on the road. Blowing a double digit lead with 3 minutes left at UCSB is inexcusable.

    I appreciate Taylor’s and the staff and the players for their efforts for a successful and winning season. It was a good season, not a great season. Now we want to see where we go into the future. Find the best coach to lead us. If it’s Taylor, so be it. If somebody else, let’s roll with that too. We have to trust the process, but can we hurry up please.

  17. Seawalker March 27, 2015 1:26 pm

    @poorboy – The problem with this Polynesian-paralysis mentality is that it will hurt U.H.’s recruiting effort. Opposing coaches will use it to their advantage and sway a blue-chip recruit into not signing with U.H. because their head coach is still not signed.

    What a shame!

    These big-time donors and so-called boosters are the ones holding up the process. Don’t they know that recruiting and re-loading is essential to winning year-in and year-out? You cannot keep living in the past. You need to think forward, as in down the road.

    Another thing about situation is that the violations U.H. faces can and will used against them. We need to get them offf our a$$es in order to move the program forward. A potential recruit will not come here if they found out and realize that post-season play is out of the question. We are paying that law firm buku-bucks to get us out of trouble. If they cannot do it, find another law firm who will.

    Benjy already recognizes the problem with Gib’s panty scheduling which water-downs the SOS. It’s all about SOS in the big-time programs and the NCAA. Let’s go ahead and schedule home-and-home series to boost the non-conference schedule. In order to be a good and respected team, you MUST win on the road.

    Hoping the new AD have the kahones to do the smart and right thing–ASAP, please. Time is of the essence here.

  18. Andrew March 27, 2015 1:50 pm


    You could also argue though that although they are Gib’s recruits (well most of them), Taylor was able manage and produce results with that talent. While Nebraska, Colorado, and Pitt may not have been spectacular this year, they are still Power 5 conference schools with better talent. Pitt while they were not the same team we have come to know them by, still had impressive wins this year. Three wins vs Power 5 schools and what should have been a win vs a ranked Wichita State team is surely impressive in my eyes. Taylor also accomplished something that no one has since the early 2000s and that is make it to a conference championship game. They did not win obviously and a 8-8 conference record is middle of the pack, but considering where this program was a few days before the season, what he did this season is very impressive and I think should warrant him a chance to lead the program as the head coach.

  19. Andrew March 27, 2015 1:51 pm


    Its one thing to recruit talent, but there’s also the skill of getting that talent to buy into your system and philosophy and to work together and produce as a team.

  20. Pocho March 28, 2015 11:26 am

    having that talent on campus and ready to play is the BASIC foundation, it’d be harder to be where you wanna be without much. It’s like how I believe the foundation of the fb team starts with the lineman.

  21. kimo browner March 28, 2015 9:51 pm

    The proof is in the puddin’. To match the adversity inherited by Coach Taylor you would have to revisit the the Bruce ONeil aftermath passed on to a young Rick Pitino, so long ago its measurement increments are in decades.Taylor not only cat bounced, but must have aggravated the NCAA by nearly qualifying a ship wrecked program into an American Cup contender. That is the story line, pure and simple.
    The 2014-2015 UH basketball season IS Taylor’s resume. He not only survived, but took the program out of darkness, when most folks abandoned ship or were thrown overboard.If anything, he earned the job. more than can be said for those that followed O’Neil and Riley Wallace. Hopefully, our new UHAD can taste the puddin’.

  22. DaBoyz808 March 29, 2015 11:58 am

    I am sure that we all would encourage anyone who is interested, to apply.

    This will be the first big decision that Matlin will be faced with and let’s hope that he will make the right choice and doesn’t get off on the wrong foot. This choice is none other than Benji Taylor.

    Benji was faced with much diversity when he accepted the challenge of coaching these young men. And, he did a very good job of it too. He was able to keep the team together, rally them around each other, and provide the basketball fans of Hawaii a very exciting season. He has demonstrated that he has the coaching skills and the CEO mentality to not only coach these young men, but to coordinate the functions of the program with great skill. We all know that a good coach is as good as the assistants that he has under him. He brought in some good additions to his staff and it appears that we have a cohesive working group of coaches. Benji has demonstrated good that he can work good with current players, has the ability to recruit, and is a people’s coach for the Hawaii fans. We have been to the Big West Tournament for the last couple of years and the fan base at this past years tournament was the biggest that I have seen. I would say that this is attributed to the team and the coaching.

    Benji – We really hope that you will be Matlin’s choice. We want to go back to the Big West Tournament again next year and this time win it all.

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