It was a sunny day in paradise, and the boys seemed loose as they gathered in the living room before the meal. Some watched a Chaminade game on television; others played the board game Battleship. The twelfth man, Matt Hiu, team prankster and comic, rose and delivered a stirring pep talk that bordered on satirical hyperbole, shouting GOD ONLY KNOWS! WE WILL NOT BE DENIED! IMUA OHANA! (Go forward with spirit, family!). His pal, Alan Lum, finally shut him up by punching him.
The mid-afternoon meal was a feast: chili, rice, cold cuts, chop suey, salad, potato and mac salads, cinnamon bars, apple bars and plates piled high with Super Burgers. The coach’s wife, Beth McLachlin, a health food advocate, was the creator of the super Burger. She had been making them for nine years, starting with her husband’s first JV team, a ravenous horde that included Mosi Tatupu, who went on to star as a running back for the New England Patriots, and the massive Keith Uperesa, who played briefly as an offensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders. The ingredients in the hamburgers included carrots, celery, onions, teriyaki sauce, wheat germ and what McLachlin described as “a mystery substance that makes them jump higher.” The power of the Super Burger was mystical, according to Dan Hale. “It was the power of commitment -- we were committed to eating them.” This was “the post-hippie era when everything was alfalfa sprouts and soy beans,” said Tom Topolinski -- yet the Super Burgers tasted so good that he and Barry and their teammates devoured them along with the rest of the food, for better or worse.
“I figure I ain’t going to play the first half,” said Lum, as Egami watched him attack the training table.
Boy Eldredge walked by with “a heaping plate” of chili and rice. “This is only my second serving,” he said. “Coach told me to take it easy on the food today.”
“Hawaiian people know how to eat,” Topolinski explained decades later. “Boy Eldredge was a freaking pig. I have never met anyone who ate that much food on a regular basis. But he was lean and burned that shit off. But he made us pay for it. He and Matt Hiu were known to be the Gas Bombs. Cleared out the pregame locker room during chalk talk.”
After lunch, some players went up to Dan’s bedroom, where a Nerf basketball hoop was suctioned to his wall. “Slam dunks,” Hale recalled. “Flying slam dunks against the wall. It sounded like the house was crashing down.” No-jump Barry could slam dunk a Nerf ball. Eventually they calmed down, went into meditation mode, visualizing what they would do on the court that night. At five-thirty they left the house -- cars, jeeps, vans backing out of the crowded driveway -- and returned to Punahou to get dressed. Darryl Gabriel, a star who acted like one, a cocksure killer, went through his pregame preening, as he described to Egami. “We take showers, blow dry our hair, brush our teeth, put on cologne like we’re going to the theater. Nah, we just like to smell nice for the other team.” They dressed in white uniforms, the short shorts of that era, with shimmering blue warm-up suits. Topo was “the biggest Boston freak on the whole campus” and tended to control locker room music. His theme song of choice -- “More Than a Feeling” -- was blasting away.