Now that his team was back on the mainland, preparing for tonight's home opener against Morgan State at Capital Centre, Georgetown Coach John Thompson was saying yesterday that the disaster-area conditions the Hoyas encountered in Hawaii last week were beneficial to the team.
"For a tourist trip, it was not a good trip. You couldn't lay on the beach, but I wouldn't have permitted that anyway," Thompson said, referring to the blackout and damage resulting from Hurricane Iwa on the islands last week.
"When you're trying to give a high school kid an idea of dealing with the frustrations of living on the road, it was very, very good," he said. "The trip was excellent from a basketball standpoint of what I wanted to accomplish, of adversities that can pull a team together."
One adversity that will soon end involves Fred Brown, the starting point guard last season. He is recovering well from knee surgery and "is awfully close to limited playing time," Thompson said. The coach said he had hoped to play him at Western Kentucky Friday and Saturday in the Wendy's Classic tournament.
But, because treatments had to be cut back due to the hurricane, Thompson said Brown probably won't play until the Alabama State game Dec. 8, the Hoyas' final tuneup for top-ranked Virginia on Dec. 11.
On the islands, beating two non-Division I teams--Brigham Young-Hawaii and the University of Hawaii-Hilo--were the easiest of GU's tasks. The Hoyas were headquartered in Waikiki, about 60 miles south of Laie, where BYU-Hawaii is located and where the hurricane hit hard.
At Georgetown's hotel, the power and water went off. The Hoyas, including some injured players, had to walk 21 floors by candlelight for two days. "Forget about the kids, I had to walk 21 floors," said Thompson, who is 6-feet-10, 300 pounds.
When the water was restored, it only worked below the 10th floor. So the Georgetown contingent had to carry water up and down the stairs for normal uses, and had to seek other sources for showers and baths. Besides, there was no ice for medical treatments or water for the whirlpool.
Without electricity, Georgetown practiced for two days in a dark gymnasium. When they drove to Laie to practice on Thanksgiving, the Hoyas were told the BYU-Hawaii gym would be powered by a generator. The generator did not operate until 10 minutes before practice ended.
The trip from Waikiki to Laie is normally about an hour, but it took an extra 30 minutes because street lights were out and trees and power lines were down. On game night, the Georgetown game was scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. following a high-school preliminary. When the Hoyas got to the gym, the generator was not working and the crowd was standing outside. When they finally got power, the GU game started 45 minutes late.
Thompson said he would have liked to have rested center Patrick Ewing, who was suffering from a sprained arch in his left foot. But had he done so, the Hoyas would have started an opening-night lineup with five players who had started a total of one varsity game.
"It's the kind of injury that rest would help, but he can't hurt it by playing," said Thompson. "Patrick's experience was one of the reasons he went on the court. It's much easier for the young kids to adjust (by) playing with him."
Thompson started two freshmen guards, David Wingate and Michael Jackson, and substituted frequently, his usual style early in the season.
Wingate led the Hoyas in scoring each game and all three freshmen guards played relatively well. Still, Thompson does not yet believe his team is as good as the wire-service polls say it is, No. 2 in the country.
"I was not excited; I don't think I was discouraged," Thompson said. "But we have an awful lot of work to do . . . It gives me something to be grouchy about."