UPDATED: Chris Gerlufsen was a winner in his debut as the 22nd head coach in Hawaii men’s basketball program history.
Gerlufsen, the acting head coach in place of ailing Eran Ganot, guided the Rainbow Warriors on a win-is-a-win-is-a-win kind of night in the 2019-20 opener, 65-52 over Florida A&M.
“It was different not having Coach Ganot there. But you know, he installed a culture that doesn’t change whether he’s on the sideline or not,” said point guard Drew Buggs, whose success despite 3-for-10 shooting was emblematic of his team’s shooting night as a whole (31.6% to FAMU’s 27.9%). “So we just played as if Coach Ganot was there. And we just played the right way, play as a team, and we tried to come out there for him, play with energy, and try to make him proud of the way we played in that first half. But we know that he would not be acceptable of that second-half effort, and that’s something we’ll continue to work on.”
Buggs said Ganot sent the team a text on Thursday, a day after he stepped away for an undetermined amount of time.
“He just let us know to go out there, play and have fun. And Coach G (Gerlufsen) does a great job of giving us confidence out there. You really can’t tell the difference.”
Gerlufsen, for his part, seemed at ease with media demands at his first postgame press conference as a Division I head coach. It mirrored his mostly calm demeanor out on the floor.
“I’m the most critical person of myself there is. I’ll go back and watch the film,” Gerlufsen said. “It’s funny, moving from assistant to head coach, it’s just the little things that you don’t realize in terms of how you manage the game, the substitution pattern of trying to get guys rest before media timeouts, things like that. And then I’ve always called the offense. But just managing the game a little bit better. Believe me, I’ll go back and watch the film and be as critical of myself as anybody. That’s the only way you get better. But I know we’ll bounce back and get better on both ends of the ball on Sunday.”
UH (1-0) faces South Dakota (1-0) at 5 p.m. Sunday. The Coyotes beat Pacific 72-62 preceding UH’s game.
The 2019-20 season tips off under some unusual circumstances tonight for Hawaii.
After receiving a clarification from the NCAA on some specifics, UH confirmed today that Chris Gerlufsen will technically be the 22nd coach in Rainbow Warrior basketball history when the ball goes up against Florida A&M at the Stan Sheriff Center at 7 p.m.
An ailing Eran Ganot, who would’ve opened his fifth season tonight, recently had to step away from the team, citing health concerns on Wednesday. Gerlufsen is the acting head coach, but he will count as the head man for record-keeping purposes for as many games as UH plays until Ganot returns in a significant capacity.
— Chris Gerlufsen (@CoachCeeGee) November 8, 2019
How many games that will be is unclear. The shortest head-coaching stint in program history was made by Rick Pitino, who coached six games (2-4) at the end of the 1975-76 season upon the firing of Bruce O’Neil.
When Ganot resumes full duty (he will likely miss at least the opening three-game Rainbow Classic, Stephen Tsai reported), Ganot will resume being the 21st head coach in program history.
Ganot is 77-48 (.616) for his four-year UH career.
Gerlufsen, who was hired at UH in early September to replace Adam Jacobsen, was most recently a four-year assistant coach at San Diego. He’s been the top assistant at his previous stops, Hartford and The Citadel. This will be his official Division I head-coaching debut.
The last time UH had a change of head coach close to a season opener, Gib Arnold was fired going into the 2014-15 season and associate head coach Benjy Taylor was made acting head coach. Taylor coached out the year, going 22-13 as the 20th coach in program history.