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Arnold the Younger’s success is about more than green shoes

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The old basketball coach was a once-upon-a-time assistant to John Wooden at UCLA and, on his own, won 148 games and took a team to the NCAA’s Elite Eight.

And, never, ever, he’ll have you know, would he have put one of his teams in the florescent lime green shoes that Gib Arnold’s University of Hawaii men’s basketball team wore for their Postseason Tournament debut this week.

"But who am I to tell him (Gib) how to win at Hawaii?" said Frank Arnold, Gib’s 77-year old father. "Let’s put it that way."

When it comes to UH basketball, at least, son knows best.

As the Rainbow Warriors go for victory No. 20 of the season tonight against the University of San Francisco in a second-round CIT game, Frank has more reasons than most to appreciate what the ‘Bows chase and admire what they have already accomplished.

Part of it is, to be sure, chest-swelling parental pride in the considerable attainments of a son 19-12 in his rookie season as a Division I head coach. A son who used to do his Punahou School homework on the couch in the father’s office at UH a quarter-century ago.

Father Frank also knows acutely the degree of difficulty that can come with a rebuilding job at UH. He was 11-45 in two seasons (1985-86 and 1986-87) as head coach in Manoa before throwing up his hands in frustration and leaving to become an assistant coach at Arizona State.

"Anytime you put in a new coach with a new system, particularly with some new players, it takes some time to win," Frank said. He could have also added "especially at UH," where the right combination of personality and patience is as necessary as diesel drive.

Frank had the misfortune of being the wrong guy in the wrong place when he took over at UH in 1985, arriving with expectations based upon his higher profile stops at Oregon, UCLA and Brigham Young. It was a mismatched situation from the beginning, one neither he nor school officials fully grasped until too late.

But the 42-year old Gib, while not without his own frustrations, has been more free-wheeling and flexible, more suited to the place and task.

"I thought he was the perfect match for Hawaii," Frank said. "I know my son and what was required there and he was the best possible choice they could have made. Not that there were not some other fine candidates, but Gib was a very, very good match."

He said as much a year ago the day Gib was hired and what Frank and his wife, Bee, have gleaned from late nights spent watching UH games on the road or over the Internet in their Idaho home confirms it.

"He smiles even after he goes after the officials," Frank said.

Then, there are the shoes.

"You just would not have caught me doing that," Frank says flatly. "But he (Gib) has got the personality for that. It works for him."


Reach Ferd Lewis at

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