By Brian McInnis
Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold and associate head coach Benjy Taylor go back a little bit with UH's opponent tonight, Pepperdine of the West Coast Conference.
Arnold "cut his assistant coaching teeth" there, in his words, from 1999 to 2003. Taylor assisted there alongside him for the 2000-01 season.
Pepperdine won more games during that span than at any other four-year period in school history. The Waves made the NCAA Tournament twice while Arnold was there, in 2000 and 2002. From there, he went on to become a head coach at the College of Southern Idaho.
Here's what Arnold had to say about his time at Pepperdine this week:
"Obviously it's different players and a different coaching staff. I really enjoyed my time at Pepperdine. We had some really, really good teams. The one thing that stands out, we beat Bobby Knight in his last game at Indiana in the NCAA Tournament (No. 11 seeded Waves won 77-57 over No. 6 seeded Hoosiers in 2000). Lost a close one to Oklahoma State the next night. Played Wake Forest down to the wire in the NCAA Tournament (2002 first round). Had some battles with Gonzaga, won the conference outright, the last team to do that before Saint Mary's finally did it. So I have a lot of great memories there. I still keep in touch with lot of the players. Any time I see a Pepperdine score, you take a closer look. When I think about Pepperdine, I have a lot of fond memories. We were fortunate to have four really good years. My time there was well-spent.
In Taylor's one season in Malibu, the Waves made the NIT. He went on to head coach at Division III North Central College in Naperville, Ill. Here's what Taylor had to say on his time at Pepperdine:
"(Memories came up) last year when we were over there (a 73-67 UH loss). But that was 10, 12 years ago. I had a good experience there. I was only there for one season. It's a beautiful place and it's a wonderful school. They're doing a good job over there now. We're looking forward to the game ... two teams that are up and coming. They beat us at their place last year, we need to try to settle the score at our place."