The Way I See It
TWO Hawaii tournaments hosted by small programs produced the top two basketball teams in the nation this past week.
Jury is still out on
college hoop teams
But neither No. 1 Cincinnati nor No. 2 North Carolina looked all that invincible.
The Bearcats will face No. 25 Gonzaga on Saturday in the Rock-N-Roll Shoot-out and they're going to have to do better than they did in beating Iowa State in the final of UH-Hilo's Big Island Invitational on Sunday.
The 'Cats looked a bit sloppy, posting more turnovers than assists.
And even though the Tar Heels won Chaminade's Maui Invitational last Wednesday, they weren't walking on water, either.
They let unranked USC get within two points during the second half of their opener. They let unranked Georgetown lead by 11 at the half of the semis, and they let No. 19 Purdue lead by five at the half in the final.
OVER at the Blaisdell Arena on Sunday, the injury-riddled Fresno State Bulldogs, the WAC's preseason favorites, were getting their heads handed to them by LSU in the final of the Hawaii Pacific Thanksgiving Classic.
At the Stan Sheriff Center the same night, Hawaii had to fight off the ropes to beat Virginia Military Institute.
It's just early season basketball. Every team is searching for an identity to take into the conference season.
Teammates are getting used to each other's moves and there's really not much consistency to the offenses yet. The defenses require further butt-kicking.
The laboratory is still open.
So, No. 11 Florida's Billy Donovan can go ahead and keep punishing his "Diaper Dandies" for poor assist-to-turnover ratios, and unranked Georgetown's Craig Esherick can keep telling the media his young Hoyas are a lot better than they've looked in losses to North Carolina, the Gators and UNLV.
Iowa can stun then-No. 1 and defending national champion UConn in the season opener and then lose two in a row. (The latest loss was to unranked Creighton, Hawaii's opponent on Dec. 22).
Don't worry. UConn and all the other stars in the NCAA galaxy will align come January.
WHAT I'm wondering, though, is if the freshmen who've dominated the pre-Christmas tournaments will continue to play as well in 2000.
Arizona guard Gilbert Arenas and North Carolina guard Joseph Forte already own tournament MVP trophies this season.
I was amazed at the poise of Forte, who could be a lottery pick as soon as 2001, according to a NBA scout present on Maui.
FLORIDA'S Donnell Harvey showed no fear under the glass against the best on Maui.
Cincinnati guards DeMarr Johnson and Kenny Satterfield looked exceptional in Hilo.
Curtis Borchardt scored 15 on Saturday for then-No. 9-now-No. 3 Stanford as the Cardinal knocked Auburn from No. 2 to No. 7.
Steve Blake and Drew Nicholas have been critical for No. 24 Maryland.
The old inclination among the big programs was to redshirt freshmen, and let the seasoned vets run the show.
Purdue and Gonzaga, which will appear in the Rainbow Classic Dec. 27-30, still do it the old-fashioned way.
They're about the only two teams in the top 25 who do. Let's see where they are in March.
Pat Bigold has covered sports for daily newspapers
in Hawaii and Massachusetts since 1978.