coach Riley Wallace celebrated the start of the 2005-06
season with his 300th victory at the school. This season,
the school celebrates Wallace's 20th season with the
program he helped resurrect during the lean years of the
The winningest coach in the program's history, Wallace
needs 19 more wins this season to become the winningest
basketball coach in the 50th state. A 19th win will
surpass former Rainbow Wahine coach Vince Goo's record of
334 from 1987-2004.
Wallace has amassed a 316-252 (.556) record since becoming
the program's 17th head coach in 1987. His 21-year career
mark stands of 331-279 (.539), includes a two-year stint
with his alma mater, Centenary.
When Wallace took over the program in 1987, it had
suffered through four-straight losing seasons, including a
combined 11-43 mark during the latter two years.
Since then, Wallace helped turn the program back into a
conference contender with 15 winning seasons and nine
trips to the postseason. Despite missing the postseason
last season for the second consecutive year, his team
still extended its school-record streak to seven
consecutive winning campaigns.
Still Wallace has guided the program to nine of its 12
all-time postseason appearances, including a school-record
streak of four straight from 2001-04. The `Bows have
appeared in the NCAA Tournament three times under Wallace
and have been invited to the National Invitation
Tournament (NIT) on six occasions. Prior to his arrival,
the program had just one NCAA appearance and two trips to
Three years ago, the team advanced to the NIT
quarterfinals and came within one win of reaching the
semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It
was the team's farthest finish under Wallace since the
1989-90 and 1997-98 squads accomplished that same feat.
The team opened the tournament with one of the biggest
wins in the program's history, an 85-74 upset of No. 25
Utah State in Logan, Utah. UH then defeated Nebraska
before a soldout Stan Sheriff Center in the second round
before succumbing to eventual NIT champion Michigan in Ann
Since 2000, the 'Bows have been among the top teams in the
WAC. UH repeated as WAC Tournament champions in 2001 and
'02, becoming just the fourth team in league history to do
so. In addition, the 2002 squad was the first in UH
history to win both the regular-season and tournament
titles in the same year.
The 'Bows' success over the years have garnered them
national attention and rewarded them with 36 national or
regional television appearances in the past six seasons.
The team and its players have also been featured in
numerous national publications, including Sports
Illustrated, USA Today, and ESPN The Magazine.
In addition to being the winningest coach, Wallace is the
most tenured coach in the program's history. His 19
seasons at UH easily surpasses Eugene "Luke" Gill's
11-year term from 1930-41. Wallace also is the "Dean of
WAC coaches" and trails only UTEP's Don Haskins (30) for
the league record for most seasons.
Of the program's 10 20-win seasons, Wallace coached five
of them, including the two highest win totals in school
history (25 in 1989-90 and 27 in 2001-02).
Wallace has also turned the 'Bows into a feared opponent
during the WAC Tournament as UH has appeared in five title
games and owns 20 victories since 1984. In addition, all
three of UH's titles occurred in its opponent's home
state; 1994 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Brigham Young), and
2001 and 2002 in Tulsa, Okla. (Tulsa).
Wallace's teams had earned the reputation of being
competitive during the regular season, but struggling
during tournament time. That all changed in the 2000-01
season when that team, seeded fifth, defied all odds and
captured its first WAC Tournament title since 1994. The
squad defeated the Nos. 4, 2, and 1 seeds, respectively,
en route to its second WAC title.
The following season, the team put together the best
season in school history, winning a record 27 games and
capturing both WAC championships. That team was awarded
the No. 1 seed and won its three games by an average of 17
The 1993-94 squad may have been the biggest surprise WAC
Tournament winner. The season started with three-straight
blowout losses by an average margin of 42 points per game.
They rebounded to finish fourth in the conference and
upset top-seeded New Mexico and host BYU.
Wallace has earned numerous awards, including WAC Coach of
the Year in 1989, '97 and 2002. In addition, Wallace was
named NABC District 13 Coach of the Year in 2002, the
first time he was recognized nationally by his coaching
A native of Illinois, Wallace entered the coaching
profession as an assistant to long-time UH head coach
Larry Little at Litchfield (Ill.) High School. In addition
to serving as a basketball assistant, Wallace headed the
track program for three years (1964-67).
But the dream of becoming a head coach at a Division I
program lured Wallace back to his alma mater, Centenary,
in Shreveport, La., to begin his college-coaching resume.
After earning his master's degree in education from
Illinois, he coached at Centenary for nine seasons under
three different head coaches. During his stay, Wallace
recruited former Boston Celtic center Robert Parish and
helped the team to a national ranking.
In 1976, Wallace assumed the dual role of athletics
director and head coach, but after one-and-a-half seasons,
he left to take the associate coaching position at Hawai`i
under Little. He stayed from 1978-84 before taking a
three-year leave to coach Seminole Junior College. Wallace
compiled a 68-36 record at Seminole, including
back-to-back 26-10 seasons.
In May 1987, Wallace returned to Hawai`i and replaced
Frank Arnold, who accumulated an 11-45 mark in two
At Centenary, Wallace lettered in basketball for three
years (1960-63) and was named team captain in his junior
and senior seasons. He was selected the Most Valuable
Player in the Gulf South Classic in 1962 and still ranks
among Centenary's all-time leaders in scoring and
Wallace was born on Oct. 25, 1941, in Alton, Ill. He is a
1959 graduate of Jerseyville High School in Illinois.
During the offseason, Wallace enjoys golfing and spending
time with his wife, Joan. They have two children, Rob and
Kim, and three grandchildren, Jackson Riley Haynes, Robert
Riley Wallace III and Dominic Charles Wallace.