- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2004

HONOLULU — The Georgetown Hoyas are in paradise. If Georgetown’s game matches its idyllic surroundings, the Hoyas will come out of their nonconference schedule in good shape.

The Hoyas (4-2) will play three games over the next four days in the Rainbow Classic beginning tonight against Oral Roberts (7-0).

While there are no ranked teams in the eight-team tournament, several of the sport’s top conferences are represented, including the ACC, Pac-10 and Conference USA. Georgetown coach John Thompson III said the quality of the field prevents the Hoyas from perceiving the event as a leisure trip.

“We want to keep getting better and this team understands that,” Thompson said. “I don’t think anyone here is looking at this as a vacation. That won’t happen. As you look at the quality of our opponents, that won’t happen.”

Joining Georgetown and Oral Roberts in the tournament are Clemson (7-1), Alabama-Birmingham (5-2), Indiana State (5-3), Long Beach State (7-5), Southern California (4-3) and Hawaii (5-0).

The winner of the Georgetown-Oral Roberts game will play the winner of the Hawaii-Long Beach State game late Wednesday. The losers will meet Wednesday afternoon.

“Obviously, we’re looking to win, but basically we’re looking to get better and show some improvement before Big East play comes around, and that is our main focus,” Hoyas point guard Ashanti Cook said.

The Hoyas have relied on freshmen so far, with decent results. Forward Jeff Green (12 points and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds) and point guard Jonathan Wallace (nine points and 14 of 30 from behind the 3-point arc) have been solid in their first months as college players.

The 6-foot-8 Green averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and 3.3 blocks in three games last week and gives the Hoyas their best low-post presence since NBA lottery pick Mike Sweetney two seasons ago.

“I think we’re getting better as time goes by, but we’re going to get a lot better from here. The only way we can go is up,” Hoyas forward Brandon Bowman said. “[The freshmen] came in here pretty good and they all have the right mind-set and have a good feel for the game. So it all helps in this offense because they’re just out here playing basketball and not free-lancing in the components of the offense. They’re perfect for it.

“This tournament will give us a good feel of where we are right now. But when it comes to the Big East season, that’s when the real test is. We’ll see how we fare up to every team in our conference.”

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