The Wildcats and other Diamond Head Classic teams enjoyed a private showing of "Creation - A Polynesian Journey," a historical-themed luau at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani on Friday night.
The luau, which regularly sells for $105, included an enormous buffet and a show that traces Polynesian history via wind and fire and other visuals.
The story detailed the blowing up of volcanoes to create the Hawaiian islands, while the dances included a Samoan fire-knife dance, traditional New Zealand dance and modern hula.
Many of the performers in the cast were invited to perform for president Barack Obama at the White House in 2009.
Former UCLA player Sean Farnham, who is one of two ESPN analysts working the Diamond Head Classic along with former UA standout Miles Simon, implored the teams' players to make the most of their opportunities during a brief speech before the luau.
Simon "was the most valuable player of a championship team," Farnham said. "I wasn't that guy. But I made sure I took advantage of every opportunity. … Whatever your goal is as a team, it is all there in front of you."
ETSU coach Murry Bartow spent a decade playing and coaching under his father, Gene, at Alabama-Birmingham.
So breaking down his father's influence on his style today was not an easy task to accomplish during a brief pre-practice interview Friday.
"I mean, that would take me too long," Bartow said. "He won a lot of games, but really the takeaway for me was the way he treated people. He was an incredible person with the way he treated people, and that's big as a coach, whether it's your players or the people around you. I had a great experience playing for him and coaching for him."
Gene Bartow died last January at age 81.
In order to save a few bucks on airfare - and give its players some extra beach time - East Tennessee State opted to travel to Honolulu on Wednesday; most other teams arrived on Thursday.
Turned out, the Bucs needed the extra time in Hawaii to recover.
ETSU left Johnson City, Tenn., at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, drove a half hour to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport, then took a hopper to Charlotte. From there, the Bucs lounged around for two hours before flying for about five hours to Phoenix.
Then, they were forced to race to their second connecting flight, barely making it and spending another six-plus hours on board over the Pacific. They arrived in Honolulu at about 10 p.m. local time, and by the time many of them went to bed, had been up a full 24 hours.
Arizona had it considerably easier: The Wildcats bused to Phoenix, and took a nonstop flight to Honolulu.
"It was a smooth trip," UA coach Sean Miller said.
The big number
The Diamond Head Classic-record three-point attempts former UA guard Zane Johnson shot for Hawaii over the three games of the event last season, making 10 of them
"It's a blessing (to go to Hawaii), which most people can't even say that they did. To go and do what you love to do and everything's paid for? That's unheard of."
- ETSU guard Lester Wilson
ETSU coach Murry Bartow said he hoped to take the Bucs to visit the USS Arizona Memorial on Monday, but Miller said he didn't think the Wildcats could pull it off.
The Diamond Head Classic has three games in four days, with Monday off to rest and practice for a final game Tuesday.
"I think all of us would love to go to Pearl Harbor, but logistically, it's almost impossible because of the time and the crowds," Miller said.
The extra day did give the Bucs a chance to practice and goof off a bit on Thursday, while they had a chance to work out at the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday.
They had even planned a local snorkeling excursion, but that failed because of an issue with the bus driver. But nobody was complaining.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing," ETSU guard Jarvis Jones said. "I'm just excited to be out here."
Pure cane sugar
UA backup guard Jordin Mayes, noted for not getting any "sugar" by Miller after he played well in a game last season, couldn't be missed in the sports section of Friday's Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
He was the most prominently featured of four players shown in a half-page advertisement for the Diamond Head Classic, which is selling tickets for as low as $10.