We wish, dear reader, that we could justify Georgetown's playing
Northern Iowa in Las Vegas on Dec. 29. Alas, however, the matchup was
just another example of the absurd scheduling that has made December
a sort of throwaway month in college basketball.
Seems that coach John Thompson wanted a game with somebody --
anybody -- in Vegas. To arrange it, Thompson went not to his athletic
director but to his good friend Sonny Vaccaro, the Nike sneaker
wheeler-dealer. First Vaccaro tried to arrange a trip during the
Thanksgiving hiatus, but all the usual early-season cream puffs were
busy, so Thompson took his team to Hawaii to meet powerhouses
Hawaii-Loa and Hawaii Pacific. The next option was to play a real
team, UNLV, but that fell through because the networks weren't
interested in a Dec. 29 date.
So Vaccaro, bless his energetic heart, learned that Northern Iowa
was to be at Nevada-Reno on Wednesday, Dec. 27 and then go on to Long
Beach State. But Long Beach wanted out of the contract, so Northern
Iowa coach Eldon Miller was able to drop that game and replace it
with Georgetown. Neat, huh?
At least the ticket-buying public in Las Vegas, accustomed to
big-league entertainment, was too sophisticated to be suckered. The
Hoyas won 83-49, and only 4,348 fans showed up.
Thompson's justification for the whole mess? ''Las Vegas is a
distracting place, and it's good for our concentration,'' he said.
''And the climate is good here. At home, the temperatures are way
below zero. The campus is abandoned, and we try to give the kids as
many experiences as they can get.''
Whenever you stop laughing, join us in celebrating, blessedly, the
real beginning of the basketball season.
This is an article from the Jan. 8, 1989 issue