Nepfel still has aloha for UH

LOS ANGELES >> In his official capacity, Bill Nepfel was a neutral observer for Saturday’s NCAA tournament game between Hawaii and UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.

But his connection to the team in green and black was undeniable.

Nepfel coached the University of Hawaii women’s basketball team from 1984 to ’87, and is working his 10th NCAA tournament as the Division I Women’s Basketball Site Representative for the first- and second-round games at UCLA, where the Wahine lost to the Bruins 66-50 on Saturday.

He retired from San Francisco State as associate athletic director last June and continued to follow the fortunes of the Rainbow Wahine throughout his career.

“I know last year the team was so disappointed and for them to climb all the way back and get back in the finals situation (at the Big West tournament) and get over that hump, it’s so rewarding for them,” Nepfel said before Saturday’s game. “What a big step and this is something they’ll remember most of their lives. This is a tremendous accomplishment.”

When the Wahine were sent to play at UCLA as the 14h seed in the Bridgeport Region, the assignment gave Nepfel a chance to connect with the Wahine again.

“It was very exciting. For them, for their fans this is about at close as you’re going to get (to Hawaii),” Nepfel said. “In terms of family and friends support, this is a great chance for them to be seen. This is always going to be a strong recruiting base for them so to be visible in the LA area is very important for that. When you look at where they could have gone as a 14, this is a great landing spot for them.”

Nepfel was hired by athletic director Stan Sheriff in 1984 as the UH women’s basketball program’s fourth head coach and went 53-35 in three seasons playing in steamy Klum Gym before moving on to San Francisco and was succeeded by Vince Goo.

“We were in a transition period at that time,” Nepfel said. “My first year I think we played nine Division II games, so we were still in transition. The next year we were full Division I and tried to get the schedule as hard as we could.

“I’ve always felt a lot of pride in Hawaii,” Nepfel said. “They gave me the opportunity, they gave me my first head coaching position and I’ll always be grateful for that.”

Before he left for USF, Nepfel recruited a promising athlete to Manoa in Judy Mosley. In Nepfel’s final season at UH, Mosley helped the Wahine to a 21-7 season and a second-place finish in the PCAA as the conference’s Freshman of the Year. She went on to become the program’s all-time leading scorer (2,479 points) and rebounder (1,441 boards) and led UH to its first two NCAA tournament appearances.

“She was a fabulous player with a big heart,” Nepfel said of Mosley, who died in 2013. “It’s always ideal when your best player is your hardest worker and that’s what Judy always was. The numbers tell you half the story; how hard she worked, how much better she got after she got to Hawaii. She was raw, she knew that and she was ready to put the work in.”


The Rainbow Wahine are scheduled to return to Honolulu today.
UH athletic director David Matin hopped between Spokane, Wash, and Los Angeles for the school’s NCAA Tournament games. After watching the Rainbow Warriors’ victory over California, he flew to LA on Saturday for the women’s game and returned to Spokane for UH’s game against Maryland today.


  1. hossana March 20, 2016 5:10 pm

    Mentioning Judy Mosley brings back many memories as she was and still is one of the best wahine players of all time Saw her play several games and she was certainly a sight. So sad of her passing.

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