Arizona basketball: Seen & heard in Honolulu

2012-12-24T00:00:00Z 2012-12-24T06:42:46Z Arizona basketball: Seen & heard in HonoluluArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 24, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Divided attention

Dick Tomey showed up for the first day of the Diamond Head Classic on Saturday wearing a green shirt and on Sunday, he wore red.

That was appropriate.

Tomey spent 10 years as the head football coach at Hawaii and 14 at Arizona.

"We love both teams," Tomey said.

Tomey, 74, now lives in Hawaii but said he constantly travels to the mainland to visit eight grandchildren, who are spread out all over the country.

Hawaiian holiday

UA's appearance in the Dec. 15 New Mexico Bowl was a bonus for Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, who suddenly had time to bring his family to Hawaii for basketball and beach time.

"We're not at home for too many Christmases," Byrne said. "Once we knew we were going to the early bowl, we decided to spend Christmas here."

Byrne's wife, Regina, and sons Nick and Davis made the trip with him.

Made for TV

The atmosphere inside the ESPN-owned Diamond Head Classic has been a bit subdued, especially in games when Hawaii is not playing.

Halftimes are highlighted with a typical shooting contest, where a fan tries to make a variety of shots and will get 80,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles if he or she tops it with a half-court shot. Then there's the occasional airing of the Korean pop song "Gangnam Style," where the top giddy-uppers are featured on the scoreboard panel.

Other than that, it's mostly just basketball.

Local eats

While most of the cuisine inside the University of Hawaii's Stan Sheriff Center is typical arena food found anywhere in the U.S., there are a few different choices.

It's possible to snack on fresh cinnamon glazed macadamia nuts, or graze on the oversized and overstuffed "bambucha" nachos.

In addition, the Okahara Saimin Factory set up a stand that offers fried or regular saimin, the noodle soup with Japanese, Filipino and Chinese influences that is popular in Hawaii. Also for sale: Edamame poke, a salty, sweet and spicy version of the green soybeans.

Birthday boy

The setting was ideal for UA guard Nick Johnson to turn 20 on Saturday.

Johnson's mother and brother joined him in Honolulu this week, the only family of UA players to make the trip other than the family of walk-on Drew Mellon.

"I'm happy I got to spend it with my teammates and my family," Johnson said. "There's no better place to spend it than in Hawaii. And we got the win (Saturday against ETSU), so that was good."

Jet lag cure

Miami was forced to play a first game that tipped off at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday morning, but the Hurricanes acted like it was early Saturday evening, knocking off Hawaii by 15 points.

"We got here at six o'clock at night (on Thursday) and we told the guys to stay up until midnight" on Thursday, Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "We tried to get right on normal (Hawaiian) time. So we slept until 9, had breakfast at 9:30 and had a regular day, with the banquet (Friday night). We got very quickly into a regular routine."

Miami's Durand Scott, who had 20 points, five assists and three steals in the first game, said he felt no difference in his body.

"It wasn't hard for me," he said. "I know basketball is a sport we love and I know once you put the ball out there and tip it up, I know everybody's going to be ready to play."

Quotable

"Not that they're not a force right now, but just imagine how they'll be in two more months. They're going to be so good."

- ESPN analyst and former Arizona star Miles Simon, on the UA Wildcats

The big number

24 - Consecutive wins by San Diego State in the month of December, a streak that began after a Dec. 19, 2009, loss at Arizona State

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