A season-opening trip to Hawaii is already turning into a nightmare for coach Tom Izzo and Michigan State.
The fourth-ranked Spartans look to recover from a stunning upset in their opener when they take on host Chaminade Monday in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
Winners of 28 consecutive season openers and coming off their fourth trip to the Final Four in seven years, the Spartans (0-1) became the first team in the preseason Top 10 to lose Saturday night, dropping an 84-62 decision to Hawaii.
Four Michigan State players were affected by leg cramps during the loss, including leading scorer Maurice Ager, who finished with 16 points.
Paul Davis, Shannon Brown and Drew Neitzel also had cramps as the Rainbow Warriors celebrated their biggest win since upsetting then-No. 2 Kansas in 1997. Brown was removed on a stretcher with 6:36 to play because of the injury.
“He was cramping from his neck to his feet,” said Izzo, who was upset with fans behind the Michigan State bench who were booing and yelling for Brown to be dragged off the court so the game could continue.
“That’s the maddest I’ve ever been as a coach in college,” he added. “Let’s just leave it at that. If we won I’d have plenty to say but I don’t want to come across as a sore loser.”
Unfortunately for Izzo, his team had little time to recover, playing three games in the next three days, beginning with this matchup with the Silverswords.
A victory for the Spartans, 10-6 all-time in Hawaii, will produce a second-round matchup with either ninth-ranked Gonzaga or No. 24 Maryland, who square off in Monday’s second game.
The eight-team field features four Top 10 teams in all, including third-ranked Connecticut and No. 10 Arizona. The Wildcats will take on Kansas in the opening round while UConn faces Arkansas.
Cramps and a slippery court were a problem at the Lahaina Civic Center in the past, especially in 2001 when coaches Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Roy Williams of Kansas complained. The building has since had air conditioning installed.
Chaminade, which went 16-11 last year, will be playing its season opener and first game under new coach Matt Mahar.
Chaminade, best known for its stunning home upset of top-ranked Virginia in 1982, is looking forward to a chance to make national headlines again this week. But the Silverswords don’t expect that to be easy against a Michigan State team still fuming over its loss to Hawaii.
“It was a great win for Hawaii over Michigan State, but it probably made them angry and I’m sure they’ll come after us,” said Mahar.
Chaminade returns eight players from last year’s team, including PacWest All-Conference selections Zack Whiting and Chris Reaves.
Whiting was second on the team with 14.5 points and six rebounds per game. Reaves made 26 starts, averaging 16.4 points per game.
The Swords are just 4-57 all-time in their own tournament, with their last win coming against an undermanned Villanova team in the opening round in 2003.