Here’s a two-part question-and-answer session with Hawaii hoops coach Eran Ganot and his first hire, assistant coach Adam Jacobsen, conducted over the phone on Friday.
Q: When do you get into town?
A: I will be out there on Monday. Right now the plan is to come out on Monday.
Q: Your overall thoughts, emotions on joining Eran Ganot’s staff out here?
A: Yeah, I’m very excited about joining Coach Ganot’s staff. One of the main reasons why I chose to do it is because I believe in Coach Ganot and what kind of person he is, his values, and really how he’ll choose to run a program. So, those things are important. You want to be around good people that you know are going to do things right, work hard and do the best you can. So, that was really exciting to me and probably the main reason why I chose to come on board.
Q: Do you know each other from WCC play the last couple years, or how did that come about?
A: Yeah, so I’ve gotten to know him since he’s been at Saint Mary’s. Just ever since he came back from Hawaii over to Saint Mary’s, I’ve known him ever since then. I’m pretty close with quite a few of the people from Saint Mary’s; Coach Randy Bennett is one of the people. And so, yeah, our relationship just over the course of the years, competing against each other, and also even just talking out on the recruiting trail and different things like that. We both have very similar values and things that we believe in, and so we just became friends over the years.
Q: You’ve spent a lot of time in the Big West as both a player and a coach. What are you expecting going back there?
A: Yeah, I coached in the Big West for 12 years and played in the Big West for five years. From the time I first started playing, it’s changed quite a bit. The teams in there now. But just coaching in it a couple years ago, one of the things I love about the Big West, is the opportunity to win the conference. In the 12 years we coached in that conference, we were able to win five championships and go to four NCAA Tournaments, and that’s one of the things I’m excited about — helping build up Hawaii as a program that can compete for championships, conference tournament championships and going to the NCAA Tournament each year. So that’s really exciting to me, and also to be able to do it in such a special place like Hawaii with such great support and great people.
Q: I know you’re a family guy, a few kids, are you going to be able to bring the whole family out here?
A: Yeah. So, not right away, they’ll finish up school. … And then once they’re done in June they’re coming over. And they’re very excited, my wife and three kids are coming over and being a part of a new program and a great program, and living in Hawaii.
Q: That whole new program aspect of it, is it all excitement? Is there any nervousness?
A: Yeah, I think anytime you’re building a new program, it’s about building a culture and doing things right. You want to work hard every single day. There’s a lot of things that will need to be established, but it’s exciting to be able to do that with so many great returning players, and also at the same time go out and add, and in the recruiting aspect of it, add some great players as well that have the right mind-set to come in and want us to be great. And I think Hawaii’s a special place in that, it is such a special place to be. But you also want to get people that want to be there for the right reasons and also want to compete for championships.
Q: Some of your roles at Pacific the last couple years under Coach Verlin, you were recruiting coordinator as well as offensive coordinator?
A: Yes. So, those were two of my main duties. And I was offensive coordinator pretty much all my 14 years at University of the Pacific. But the first 12 of them were under coach Bob Thomason, who is the winningest coach in Big West history. And also Coach Verlin, taking over. So, yeah, offensive coordinator, I worked with the guards, recruiting coordinator as well. So those were some of my main responsibilities and I’m looking forward to adding some of those as well as many other things that you do.
Q: Do you foresee yourself taking on those same roles here? Have you and Eran talked extensively about that at this point?
A: We have. We’ve talked about that. I think one of the things Coach Ganot’s expressed that I feel really good about is, as he continues to hire the staff and fill up the staff, he wants to make sure that he gets all the pieces that will complement each other. He wants coaches that can coach the all-around game and I feel like I can do that. Someday I would love to be a head coach at the Division I level, and so throughout my career I feel like I’ve studied all the different aspects of coaching and teaching basketball. And so whatever my role will be there, I feel like I’ll work hard to make it the best it can be. Those are some of the things I’ve done over the years that I can definitely bring some experience to, as far as coaching guards and offense, and recruiting.
Q: I know you were the associate head coach at UoP the last couple years. Is that going to be your same title here, or is that still to be determined?
A: Still to be determined.
Q: So Monday you’ll be coming here, are you able to do any recruiting on the mainland in the near future, over the phone or otherwise?
A: Yeah. In fact, I’ve already been able to get started. My first day was a couple days ago. It’s kind of unique since I’m already over here. I’m over here first, and we’re finishing up recruiting (for the period) this weekend. And also been able to do some over the phone. And coming out on Monday, I’m really excited about meeting the team and the people in the athletic department, and getting going over there. Yeah, right now our recruiting period ends this Sunday. That will be our last day to recruit off campus, and then it won’t open up for us to be off campus again until July. So, that’s why it’s kind of a unique situation for me, because I haven’t been out there yet, but I was able to get started while I was over here so I can do some of those things.
Q: Hawaii being a Big West school now, will a lot of your recruiting philosophy be California-based?
A: Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. I think one of the things about Hawaii, you can attract a lot of people from a lot of different places. I don’t necessarily know that we’ll have one place. But the great thing about the Big West, and even when I was at Pacific, there are so many teams from the Southern California area, the conference tournament is there, so a lot of people from that area, it’s great because you’ll go back for your conference road games and tournament and play in front of family and friends. So that’s special to people. But I think being able to attract people from all over the world… you get the best players that fit the way we want to play, and the values we want to play with.
Q: How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?
Q: Going somewhere else in the D-I ranks for the first time besides your alma mater, what do you think that’s going to be like? A lot of coaches hop around, sometimes even year to year. Does that say you’re a loyal guy? How would you describe that?
A: Well, I hope it says that. Something I do pride myself in is being a loyal guy. I definitely want to be a loyal guy to the coaching staff and the university. For me, some of the guys who hop around a lot, they’re just trying to move their way up. For me, it’s about being the best about where you’re at at that particular time. And I loved Pacific, and I’m looking forward to loving being around the people, not only in our basketball program but at from the University of Hawaii. That part of it, I think, is really exciting for me to have a new opportunity. Something that is different, but also something that I believe in and that I will work really hard to be the best that we can be.
Q: How did you get to know Adam?
A: Since I started, we kind of knew of each other, then got to know each other really well. You go up the ranks and things like that, we were both on the West Coast. I started at Saint Mary’s, he was at Pacific, and we’d played against each other, even when I was at Hawaii. And so, we’d see each other on the road. He’s kind of got a lot of relationships that we both shared. Coach Bennett being one of them. So, we got to know each other. A lot of mutual respect and became close.
Q: When you set about to craft your staff, he’s a guy who came straight to mind for you?
A: Right. And you have a short list. Guys that, kind of what I’ve been talking about, guys who are great guys, guys who are talented coaching on the floor, recruiting. And guys who want to be at Hawaii. And so, to me, Adam checks the boxes. I think I’ve talked about having well-rounded coaches. He’s the total package. He’s a great human being, he has a great family, and he comes from a great basketball family. His brother, Casey, played in the NBA. … His other brother was a player, too. All those things, he’s really excited about being here, which I think is important. So, I thought he’s got a proven track record as a coach and as a recruiter. And I keep saying this, and as a bonus, he’s got a great understanding of this league. He was probably one of the more successful player-coach combination guys that the Big West has seen. … He won two Big West titles as a player, and has won five as a coach. You know, all those things, there’s just so many strengths there. I think there’s a great fit with Hawaii, which is important.
Q: Do you envision him doing similar roles here that he held at Pacific?
A: I do, I’m going to play to his strengths. But there’s some similarities in terms of my (coaching) path, which really helps him. Because he’s been allowed to kind of have a say, or has been involved in every aspect of running a program. Including moving up the ranks to associate coach, and of a successful program. … He’s been around great mentors, with Ron Verlin recently and obviously Bob Thomason. He’s been blessed just as I have been to be around some great mentors.
>> Ganot declined comment on whether Jacobsen will be the associate head coach.
A: The other thing, I’m excited about this hire. I think we should all be excited, the University of Hawaii, the people here. I think we’ll love getting to know Adam and his family and embrace him, just like they have with me when I first came here. I’m excited about that, I’m really excited about him. You know, he’s been up to Hawaii, but I’m looking forward to him getting to know everybody here. Getting a feel for the aloha spirit, things like that.
Q: He’s been very loyal to Pacific over the last 15 years or so. Do you have any concerns about a guy who’s been in one place so long having to go to a fresh start situation?
A:No, I think, actually I’m excited to tell you something about how excited he is for this opportunity for him to leave a really good situation. That’s more how I look at it. I think he’s obviously calculated with his moves. He had a great situation as part of a really good program. I can’t say how excited I am. This is a good fit for him in his next spot in his career.
Q: I know it was important for you to get that first guy on board. Two more to fill, as far as your full assistants. How do you feel about that process right now?
A: I’ve always felt good about the direction going in, and then as it’s played out, obviously you can tell, I move cautiously. But I’ve had a good idea (on that), I just gotta make some decisions. Things are moving in the right direction. In the short term, as I addressed some other (things), our current guys, I put a lot of priority in our current team and getting to know them and things like that. … It’s going in a good direction. I’m going to finish up here on the road (Las Vegas), get back to Hawaii and start finalizing some things.
Have a good weekend, all.