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Holy Hula Hoops!
Alexander Wolff
January 07, 1985
Some 350 players from 29 teams had a Hawaiian holiday vacation
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January 07, 1985

Holy Hula Hoops!

Some 350 players from 29 teams had a Hawaiian holiday vacation

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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.


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'!"

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