December 8, 2008

When Hawaiians flock to Las Vegas, there's a friendly face there to greet them.

It's Riley Wallace, who coached the University of Hawaii men's basketball team for 20 years and has built a home in Glitter Gulch.

Wallace, who retired from coaching after the 2006-07 season, was in Fresno last week watching his nephew, Kendall Wallace, play basketball for UNLV against Fresno State at the Save Mart Center.

"We built a house in Las Vegas and we still have a condo in Honolulu," Wallace said during halftime of Wednesday's game.

Wallace works as an "executive host" for Boyd Gaming properties, including the Orleans Arena.

For an AAU tournament last summer and the recent Las Vegas Invitational college basketball tournament won by Kentucky at Orleans Arena, Wallace helped steer teams to stay at Boyd hotels.

Then there's the Hawaiian connection.

"Tons of people from Hawaii go to downtown Las Vegas," Wallace said. "We stage welcome parties and golf tournaments."

Last spring a Las Vegas newspaper reported more than 60% of business at Boyd's three downtown casinos comes from Hawaii or Hawaiians now living on the mainland.

When he's not busy hosting and greeting, Wallace likes to stay in touch with the old gang. Which means going to lunch with former UNLV coaches Jerry Tarkanian and Charlie Spoonhour and former Hawaii coach Larry Little.

Wouldn't you love to be a fly on that wall?

2008 Riley Wallace. All Coach Network. All Rights Reserved.