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Matsuda to coach Punahou hoops

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Punahou School stayed in-house to find its new boys basketball coach.

Former intermediate coach and varsity assistant Darren Matsuda was hired yesterday, replacing Alika Smith, who departed after one season.

Darren Matsuda:
Excited and honored
to take on the challenge

Matsuda is a year-round coach who lifted the Sharks basketball club to elite status. He inherits a Punahou squad that went 24-4 and finished No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Top 10 last season.

"I’m very excited and honored to take on the challenge," Matsuda said.

One of Punahou’s top returnees, guard/forward Malik Johnson, has already given his coach a boost by committing to play only basketball in the offseason. Johnson, a 6-foot-6 junior, played football for the first time last fall.

Punahou assistant athletic director Kale Ane said the final list had five quality applicants.

"They were all qualified candidates and they all had good interviews," Ane said. "Darren’s work ethic and passion for the game really stood out. I don’t think anyone will outwork him. On his days off, he watches tapes. He’s a fanatic in a good way and he has a lot of good ideas about the program from varsity down to intermediate."

Matsuda, 38, has been at Punahou since 2006, when Dan Hale was varsity head coach. With the return of twin towers DeForest Buckner and Johnson, as well as some talented newcomers, Punahou is likely to get the No. 1 nod when preseason arrives.

Aside from that, Matsuda already has grown comfortable within a program that faces huge expectations annually.

"One of my strengths is that I’m a good communicator. I’ve always believed you have to be honest with people," he said.

He planned on being with the Sharks club for just one more year regardless of the Punahou hiring. Now that he has more time in the offseason, Matsuda said he plans to spend most of it with his children, a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old.


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