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Assistants and others kept the team strong in Ganot’s absence

Before 2020 could become clear for the University of Hawai’i basketball team, it took a collective and corrective effort for two months of 2019 from a young staff that can see the bigger picture now.

Eran Ganot is back in place as head coach as the Rainbow Warriors prepare for next week’s  start of the Big West Conference season. He was on a medical leave of absence from November 6 to December 27.

While Ganot was out, the remainder of the coaching staff took on added roles, led by Chris Gerlufsen becoming acting head coach. It was a sudden and unexpected announcement from Ganot, but the Warriors managed to produce an 8-5 record in his absence.

“It’s the whole collection of the group – the rest of the coaching staff and the players,” Gerlufsen said. “All we tried to do was be great care takers of the program while Coach has been away.”

 It was particularly interesting for Gerlufsen, who was named an assistant coach by Ganot on September 3. Two months later, he was performing head coach duties.

“There’s a lot more added responsibilities in terms of your day to day, in terms of dealing with the media, just making sure from an individual standpoint that the players are in a good place, and then trying to juggle and run the staff as well,” Gerlufsen said of his role as acting head coach. “It’s been a great experience, but that’s a testament to the players and that’s a testament to the rest of the coaching staff. The foundation was built before I got here.”

The other two assistant coaches – John Montgomery and Jabari Trotter – also took on added roles. Montgomery has been an assistant coach since Ganot was first hired as head coach in 2015, and his experience was invaluable during the process.

“We tried to make it as normal as possible,” Montgomery said. “Me being here for four and a half seasons, I told Eran I’m going to try and keep it to how it used to be, how you want it to be.”

Also, director of operations Jesse Nakanishi was allowed to serve as an assistant coach while Ganot was on leave. He is now back in his original role.

“The first day Coach was back, it was unique,” Gerlufsen said. “But, again, we’re all going to assume the same roles that we had in terms of voices. Now we have our experienced leader back who’s going to assume his role. We’re going to make it work and we’ll be a better team and a better program for having gone through this.”

The Warriors are currently 9-5 (including 1-0 with Ganot as head coach). They will open Big West Conference action on the road next week, with games at Cal State Fullerton on January 9, then at UC Irvine on January 11.

1 Comment

  1. Good insights

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