Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Ganot pays tribute to the late Jim Leahey

University of Hawai’i men’s basketball coach Eran Ganot has always been big on the history of the Warriors program, so when former longtime UH TV play-by-play announcer Jim Leahey passed away Monday morning after a long illness at age 80, it hit Ganot hard and the memories came flooding back.

Photo courtesy www.hawaiiathletics.com

Ganot first met Leahey when he arrived at the Manoa campus as a 24-year-old Director of Basketball Operations under head coach Riley Wallace.

“I know we’re all hurting and thinking and sending good thoughts and prayers to the amazing Leahey family,” Ganot said late Tuesday morning, moments before boarding the team bus to the airport for this week’s road trip to UC Davis and Cal Poly. “I’ve always said how fortunate I was to come here at 24 years old and didn’t know anybody, and learn under Coach Wallace. But even guys like Jim Leahey and Robert Kekaula … all those guys were incredible at their jobs and their craft, but always took it to another level with their clear, genuine passion for Hawai’i, our student-athletes, coaches. They mentored all of us, and they took us in.”

Ganot said although Leahey retired in 2016 — after Ganot’s first season as head coach — his voice is familiar to every player and recruit since then, to this day. And his own memories span Ganot’s tenures as DOBO, assistant coach under Bob Nash and assistant at Saint Mary’s under Randy Bennett.

“We show the history of our program, and some of it has these highlights, and (Leahey) is on all of them,” Ganot said. “When something like that happens, you reach out to their family, and then you almost immediately you go to (personal) moments. And I was 24, Director of Ops, and then assistant, and he was spending time with me before shootarounds, after shootarounds, and ‘Hey, what’s your story?’ and breaking it down.

“And I remember coming here as an assistant at Saint Mary’s, knowing we’re going to play a good, Coach Wallace-coached team and ‘Hey, we got Jim Leahey calling the game!,’ ” Ganot said. “And I remember when I came back as a head coach, he would come and do games, and he would walk in and I would be, ‘Oh, the Legend, this is a great moment for our guys,’ and our guys would go introduce themselves. He is a national treasure, and it’s a national treasure of a family, and they’re three-for-three, because Kanoa is incredible.”

Leahey started calling UH basketball games on statewide TV since the 1970’s, and continuing on through the 1980’s, ’90’s, 2000’s and until 2016.

“So the legacy, you feel among the family, but also you feel it among the student-athletes, the coaches, the fans, our community. Just a special, special human being who went above and beyond to make everybody feel welcome.”

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