Months before his University of Hawaiʻi basketball team’s first game, new Coach Gib Arnold had already established his best five starters.
Their average height is about four feet.
Despite the whirlwind of coaching duties following his March 2010 appointment as the Rainbow Warriors’ head coach, Arnold maintains that his primary duties are as husband to his wife, Lisa, and father to their five children, who range in age from 4 to 14.
For the Arnold family, quality time starts before the sun rises. Wake-up call in their Kailua home is 5 a.m., and breakfast is mandatory. “Because I might be on the job late into the night some days, the time we will always have together is the early mornings,” he explains. “We make the best of that time, talking about anything and everything…and it’s not just basketball.”
After breakfasting and transitioning to coach, it is all about basketball. Hired to replace the legendary Bob Nash, Arnold, 41, has been given the task of reviving a program that last had a winning record in 2007.
“I’m not going to predict any grand season, like 35 wins or anything like that,” Arnold says. “This being our first year and losing what we lost from a year ago, I think the wins will come maybe further down the line. What I really want this first year is a team that plays hard, plays together and competes. I want to lay the foundation now and, in time, I think the wins will come.”
Arnold was hired in part because of his reputation for recruiting. He was an NCAA Division I assistant coach at University of Southern California, Pepperdine, Vanderbilt and Loyola Marymount.
“I’ve always been an active recruiter. To be that, you have to spend a lot of time on the road,” he says. “A lot of years, I spent more than 100 days in hotel rooms. That part is hard on the family, but honestly, my family really doesn’t know any different. They’ve become accustomed to my traveling, I think. I call them every day and make sure to give them that time with me.”
Without assistant coaches in place, Arnold had to woo several of the Rainbow Warriors’ eight new recruits on his own. He spent much of his first five months shuttling between Hawaiʻi, Southern California and other areas of the United States while Lisa Arnold prepared the family for the move from Los Angeles to Kailua.
“As a coach’s wife, you kind of expect these kinds of changes” she says. “But we knew this one was different from the others. We knew this was like a coming home for Gib, and so we were all excited for him.”
Arnold’s father Frank was the UH basketball coach for two seasons, 1985–87. Gib graduated from Punahou School in 1987 and was set to attend UH Mānoa and play for his father. But when Frank Arnold left to accept a job at Arizona State, Gib followed.
Both Gib and Lisa graduated from Brigham Young University, but Arnold says he considers his high school stint in Hawaiʻi as two of the more influential years of his life. “I was blessed with a coach’s athleticism, and not NBA athleticism, so I realized at a young age that my NBA dreams were going to be just that, dreams,” he says. “That allowed me to focus on becoming a coach. I remember my sophomore year in college, I wrote in my journal a list of the 10 schools where I would like to coach, and Hawaiʻi was on that list.”
Now he wants his own children to experience Hawaiʻi. The eldest—Analise, 14, and Ashton, 12—attend Punahou. Ace, 4, will join Ally, 10, and Addison, 8, at Kainalu Elementary next year.
“I’ve talked so much about Hawaiʻi and the aloha spirit, my kids think this is the only place where I grew up,” Arnold says.
“It was kind of sad to leave my friends and stuff, but if we had to move, I’m glad it’s Hawaiʻi. It’s beautiful here,” echoes Analise.
After school, the family will have a meeting place at the UH Athletic Complex. “This will be our second home. The kids will come here after school and just hang out at practice, or do their homework in my office if they need to,” Arnold says. He expects they will take turns being ball-boys and ball-girls at UH games this season.
And then they’ll drive back home to Kailua to rest for the next day’s family breakfast.
“Every night when I come home through that Pali tunnel, I feel like I’m shifting from coach to father and husband,” Arnold says. “It’s kind of a neat to be able to have both those roles in a place that’s always been special to me.”
Rainbow Warrior Basketball Preview
Staff: Associate Coach Walter Roese, former assistant coach at Nebraska; Assistant Coaches Benjy Taylor, former head coach at Chicago State, and Brandyn Akana, former assistant coach at BYU-Hawaiʻi; Director of Operations Scott Fisher, Australia National Basketball League player and coach; Video Coordinator Johnny White, former UH player and volunteer coach.
New recruits: Transfers are 6-8 forward Dominick Brumfield, Big Bend College; 6-10 center Angolian native Vander Joaquim, College of Eastern Utah; 6-5 guard Piʻi Minns, Chaminade 7-0 center Davis Rozitis, USC; 5-11 point guard Anthony Salter, Iowa Western Community College; 6-7 forward Josten Thomas, College of Southern Idaho.
High school standouts joining the team are 6-4 shooting guard Bo Barnes, Arizona; 6-4 guard Jordan Coleman, 6-1 point guard Bobby Miles and 6-7 forward Trevor Wiseman, California.
Tournaments: Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic Nov. 12–15, with Cal State Fullerton, Central Michigan and Montana State; Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic Dec. 22–25 with Baylor, Butler, Florida State, Mississippi State, San Diego and Washington State. See the full schedule.
Neighbor Island appearance: Dec. 17 against Chicago State in Lahaina