Holy Hula Hoops!

Some 350 players from 29 teams had a Hawaiian holiday vacation
January 07, 1985

You know, of course, what will happen next Christmas: A shadowy Honolulu playground character named Duke Dunkthruahupu will have founded Lemonade University By-the-Refreshment-Stand-by-the-Sea, declared himself athletic director/coach/registrar, recruited half a dozen of his beach buddies and invited seven Top 20 teams for a basketball tournament. And none of this will be particularly noteworthy, except that Lemonade will beat three of the seven.

That's the next step in the Hula Hoops Craze, which reached its craziest from Dec. 16 to Dec. 30, 1984. During those 15 days of Christmas, Hawaii gave to thee: 350 kids a-playin', 45 games a-runnin', 16 Division I teams a-visitin', nine 7-footers a-postin', six island schools a-hostin'...five O-lym-pi-ans...four Riverside Hawks, three major upsets, two grounded Bluejays and a tape cartridge in a palm tree.

The cartridge, discovered late last Sunday night between a couple of medium-high fronds above Waikiki Vandeweghe beach, contained Duke Dunkthruahupu's Christmas Week Diary.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 24

Some of the visiting teams say they come for a recruiting advantage. "We want to go to Hawaii once every four years so every player gets to make the trip," says North Carolina coach Dean Smith. "We told that to Ralph Sampson when we were recruiting him, and the Virginia coaches supposedly said they'd go every year if he went to UVa." Wouldn't you know it, the O-Wahoos visited the islands three times in Sampson's four years.

Any recruiting edge, however, has largely disappeared. "So many teams come now that they cancel each other out," says Iowa coach George Raveling.

Perhaps, then, it's the competition that attracts the big-name schools. But what can be learned from losing to a team from something called Chaminade University that has a part-time coach and a high school gym for a home court? Humility, perhaps. Or from beating a team from Hawaii Loa College, whose nickname is the Mongoose and which has an alltime winning percentage of .048? Mercy, perhaps.

You could not knock the quality of the haole imports this Christmas. The Classics get 'em—the Chaminade, Rainbow and Hawaii Pacific Classics, that is—and there were a handful of single games between island teams and those from the mainland. Half of the major-college visitors—Oklahoma, SMU, Louisville, Maryland, Washington, Georgia Tech, Arkansas and North Carolina—were ranked in one Top 20 or another upon arriving in Hawaii. Those eight, plus the other visitors, Arizona, Cornell, Creighton, Houston, Iowa, Iowa State, Missouri and Oregon State had a combined record of 101-23. And three of those losses had been inflicted by one of the mainlanders on another.

Still other teams say they come for the extra games. The NCAA doesn't count games played outside the continental U.S. against a school's 28-game regular-season limit, so coaches head for the far, far west during November and December before hunkering down for conference play. "The earlier you get here," says Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs, "the better off you are." Georgetown got here on Nov. 23.

But there must be something else. "Kiss me on the mouth, girl!" Maryland coach Lefty Driesell said after Rainbow Classic queen Sandra Alapa pecked him discreetly on the cheek at the Rainbow Classic Tip-Off Banquet. "I'm not going to give you nothin'!"

1984 All-Christmas, All-Island, All-Nickname Team

(Superb) Herb Crook, Louisville
Gerry (Sir Jamalot) Wright, Iowa
Greg (Cadillac) Anderson, Houston
Darryl (Choo) Kennedy, Oklahoma
Robert (Buzz) Peterson, N.C.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25

Perhaps the hardest thing about losing to Chaminade—as Sampson and then-No. 1 Virginia learned two years ago, and Louisville learned last year and again three nights ago, and SMU learned this afternoon—is realizing that you failed where St. Mary's (of Texas), Walsh College (of Ohio) and Cal State (of L.A.) all succeeded.

The Silverswords, one of five NAIA teams in the islands, knocked off Louisville 67-65 in their Chaminade Classic opener when guard Mark Rodrigues threw in a last-second 15-footer. Today, a 6-foot guard named Keith Whitney sank a last-microsecond 20-footer to defeat previously unbeaten and fifth-ranked SMU. In the Silverswords' case, NAIA stands for Not Awed In Alohaland.

Tournament MVP Jon Koncak had given the Mustangs a 70-69 lead on a layup with 12 seconds to play, and SMU forward Reginald Pink had smothered a Rodrigues shot several seconds later. But the ball bounced loose, was batted wildly about and finally went out of bounds as the last second ticked off. While the Mustangs celebrated, a voice boomed over the PA.: "The buzzer has not sounded. The buzzer has not sounded!"

Though the clock showed 0:00, the buzzer had indeed not sounded. A fraction of a second was still humming un-elapsed inside the circuitry of the Neal Blaisdell Center arena scoreboard. The officials cleared the floor, ruling that Chaminade would inbound from under its basket.

With a policeman standing by the scorer's table and Chaminade coach Merv Lopes watching his three front-court men get bottled up inside, Rodrigues flipped the ball into the right corner to Whitney, who had already made eight long jumpers during the second half. How Whitney could catch the ball, swivel, cock, jump, hang and fire off a 20-foot fallaway in a smidgen more than no time at all, who can figure? But the buzzer sounded well after the ball had left his hands. The final: 71-70 Chaminade.

"People here have been great to us," said stunned but stoic SMU coach Dave Bliss, who obviously would like to be invited back. "You have to be more than one point better on the road to win."

"Teams get Polynesian paralysis when they come here," said Chaminade athletic director Mike Vasconcellos.

Certainly the Silverswords outhustled and outthought the Mustangs, but, still, they might consider etching the name of the timekeeper, Tadashi Tadani, on the cornerstone of their gym. When they build one.

Read one sign directed at NBC-TV: NOBODY BEATS CHAMINADE. With the Sooners also having lost 85-76 to SMU in the first round of the Chaminade Classic, NBC's Christmas Day Oklahoma-Louisville matchup became a de facto consolation game. But the two teams played so hard that Sooner star Wayman Tisdale complained afterward of cutting his elbow on the rim. The injury probably occurred on a back-to-the-basket, alley-oop Christmas stocking stuffer off a lob from Tim McCalister. Tisdale scored 28 as Oklahoma bodysurfed, 90-72.

Louisville guard Milt Wagner, who looked on while nursing his broken left foot, ticked off the names of the other Cardinals who were hors de combat: Kevin Walls, knee surgery; Jeff Hall, dislocated fibula; "and Manuel [Forrest]," Wagner said, getting into the islandy swim of things, "hurt his Antilles keel."

Before Maryland's opening Rainbow game against Iowa and Raveling, who had once been a Terp assistant, Driesell said, "I'll feel bad if we win and bad if we lose. With George, I hope we hit a 50-footer at the buzzer." When Maryland guard Jeff Adkins dropped a 12-footer at the overtime buzzer for a 70-68 win, Driesell didn't look at all discomforted.

North Carolina may not have had as giddy a holiday as Chaminade, but the Tar Heels certainly had a longer one. They left Japan, where they'd beaten Wichita State and Arizona State in the Suntory Ball, at 10 p.m. Christmas night, and arrived in Honolulu at 9 a.m. Christmas morning. That gave them 37 hours of Christmas—another thing Smith had promised his recruits.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26

You can't expect much from a team that can't help but see its mascot being ceremoniously devoured nightly at every Waikiki hotel. That dispiriting ritual may have contributed to the plight of the Arkansas Razorbacks, who became a luau feast themselves for Georgia Tech in their Rainbow Classic opener. The Hogs surrendered 18 straight points on their way to a 72-52 slaughter. Coach Eddie Sutton has never suffered a worse defeat in his 11 seasons at Fayetteville, and it could have been even uglier if Tech hadn't missed 17 times from the foul line.

Meanwhile, Tech coach Bobby Cremins issued a no-moped dictum after 7-foot backup center Antoine Ford gashed his knee falling off one. Injuries had left Tech with only eight players, and the Yellow Jackets were employing a student manager and a graduate assistant coach for practices.

Someone asked Christian Welp, Washington's 7-foot center from West Germany, whether he had sampled any local food. "Hamburger," the Teutonic sonic replied. "And pizza."

1984 All-Christmas, All-Island, All-Jones Team

Anthony Jones, Hawaii
Kent Jones, Louisville
Clarence (Bill) Jones, Iowa
Tom (Speedy) Jones, Maryland
John Q. Jones, Hawaii-Hilo

Member emeritus: Charles (Big Time) Jones of Oklahoma, who somehow got his 6'10", 235-pound person lost in L.A. International Airport when the Sooners were making connections to Honolulu for their 1982 Rainbow Classic visit. He missed the team plane and showed up seven hours later after hitching a ride on the North Carolina team flight.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 27

The sun returned to Oahu after three days of rain, so attendance was sparse at an afternoon Rainbow consolation doubleheader. A shame, because both games went into OT: Iowa beat Cornell 59-56 and Arkansas edged Iowa State 84-79. "The best post-Christmas sale imaginable," said New Jersey Nets scout Al Menendez. "Two great games for a buck."

During Maryland's 79-71 semifinal defeat tonight of Hawaii, Driesell did a Russian cossack dance right after Len Bias was assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim following a dunk. Though Lefty didn't draw a T of his own, his sideline footwork did bring back memories of Classic coaches who have had run-ins with island officials. In 1981 Bradley's Dick Versace yanked a whistle from a referee's mouth. After a game in 1964, Ladell Andersen, then the coach of Utah State, was knocked unconscious at midcourt by the local supervisor of officials, who didn't like the way Andersen had abused the supervisor's son-in-law, who happened to be the referee.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28

Georgia Tech's Bruce Dalrymple, North Carolina's Kenny Smith and Arkansas' Kenny Hutchinson—three guards from three New York City boroughs—met for breakfast in a Waikiki coffee shop to rehash memories of their days with the 1982 Riverside Church Hawks, that year's national AAU junior champs. As they swapped gossip and debated team curfews, Smith mentioned that another former Riverside Hawk, Missouri's Derrick Chievous, had arrived in the islands.

Dalrymple: "Band-Aid's here?"

Smith: "Saw him last night. He's with Missouri now."

Hutchinson: "Missouri what? State?"

Dalrymple: "Just Missouri. Band-Aid! Every time he plays he has a Band-Aid on. I say, 'Where are you hurting?' He says, 'Nowhere. I'm just wearing a Band-Aid.' " Dalrymple shakes his head.

"There's three schools here I can't even find," muses Al McGuire, the TV commentator and former coach. "Hee-low high-low, lo-la and la-la-la. One of them is 100 miles out on an atoll."

McGuire was probably referring to Hawaii-Hilo and Hawaii Loa, both of which hosted Georgetown in November and promise to hold tournaments of their own next year, and Brigham Young-Hawaii, which isn't on an atoll, but is an outpost on Oahu's North Shore.

BYU-Hawaii played Houston this afternoon. You'll recall that two Cougars, Benny Anders and Braxton Clark, bolted the team during last year's Chaminade Classic, unhappy with their playing time. Anders is out for the year with a knee injury and didn't make this trip. Clark, meanwhile, saw only 13 minutes of light in Houston's 100-77 romp but, as of late tonight, was still registered at the Turtle Bay Hilton.

Georgia Tech's Great Eight beat Maryland 70-69 in the Rainbow final after guard Mark Price, the tournament MVP, flicked in a scoop layup with :03 left. Cremins owes a debt to Bill Foster, the former Clemson coach who's now at Miami, for his advice about the islands. "He said either go early or stay late," Cremins says. "And if you plan to do any winning, go early." Tech went early, won—and had planned to stay late anyway.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29

Three schools whose states lent their names to World War II battleships—Arizona, Missouri and North Carolina—played in a tournament hosted by Hawaii Pacific College in a navy rec hall at Pearl Harbor. Before Arizona and Missouri tipped off the opener—yes, Arizona went down, 76-73—three Missouri Tigers (Malcolm Thomas, Jeff Strong and Blake Wortham) ran laps around the court for unspecified disciplinary reasons; they then sat out the first half. (A sterner sentence was handed down to two Creighton Bluejays. They were sent back home to Omaha for, in coach Willis Reed's words, indulging in "a little too much nightlife.")

Chievous scored 32 points for Missouri, while playing—of course—with a Band-Aid adorning his left calf.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 30

Unranked Missouri sank 10 of 13 free throws in the final 1:02 to sink previously undefeated No. 15 North Carolina 81-76 this afternoon for the Hawaii Pacific championship. "I consider them expensive," said Chievous afterward of the Tar Heels. "A class act. They stay at the Regal Beagle." Carolina thus became the seventh Top 20 team to lose in Hawaii over the holidays.

Georgetown was smart. The Hoyas spent the Christmas break on another island. Puerto Rico.

PHOTOCRAIG MOLENHOUSEChristmas was one long luau for Razorbacks, Yellow Jackets, Huskies, Cyclones and Cardinals, even of the mascot species. PHOTORICHARD MACKSON[See caption above.] TWO PHOTOSRICHARD MACKSONR.I.P. Louisville and SMU, thanks to Silverswords Rodrigues (left) and Whitney. PHOTOCRAIG MOLENHOUSETisdale didn't let an Oklahoma loss dampen his drinking or his dunking pleasure. PHOTORICHARD MACKSON[See caption above.] PHOTOCRAIG MOLENHOUSEGeorgia Tech's Price won himself the Rainbow and then went "surfing" in the street. THREE PHOTOSRICHARD MACKSONLosing is a bit easier in the islands for Crum (above) and Raveling (right), but not so for Hawaii's Larry Little (below).

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)