It’s been 25 years since Chaminade pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history. But it’s the most recent surprise pulled by the Silverswords at the Maui Invitational that grabbed the attention of Marquette coach Tom Crean as his 10th-ranked Golden Eagles head into Monday’s game against the host school of the eight-team tournament.
Chaminade (1-0), currently a Division II school, has a 4-63 all-time record at the Maui Invitational, a tournament that usually draws a high-profile field on an annual basis. Besides Marquette (2-0), this year’s field of Division I teams includes No. 13 Duke, LSU, Illinois, Oklahoma State, Arizona State and Princeton.
The Silverswords put themselves on the map in a big way in 1982, stunning No. 1 Virginia - a team led by three-time national player of the year Ralph Sampson. Crean is aware of that landmark victory, but Chaminade’s upset of Villanova - a Big East rival for Marquette - in the first round of the 2003 tournament has made it easier for the coach to warn his team not to take the Silverswords lightly.
“It helps, but maybe what’s more relevant for these guys is that Chaminade’s last win was over another school in the Big East who our guys are very familiar with,” Crean said. “The Virginia thing sounds good, I remember it, but none of these kids were alive then. So what’s more relevant for them is what they see on film and that they respect them as a team.”
The Golden Eagles have not been particularly impressive in their two wins, and have been idle since a 66-55 victory over Utah Valley State last Monday. Dominic James scored 13 points to lead four players in double figures, and forward Dwight Burke provided a lift in the frontcourt with career highs of 12 points and eight rebounds.
Despite having a guard-oriented offense, Marquette is shooting just 27.9 percent (12-for-43) from 3-point range. Guard Jerel McNeal leads the team in scoring (13.5) and rebounding (6.5), while James (12.5 ppg), Lazar Hayward (11.0) and David Cubillan (10.5) all are averaging in double figures.
Marquette also has enjoyed recent success in early-season tournaments, winning the 2005 Great Alaska Shootout and the 2006 CBE Classic - the latter capped by a victory over Duke.
While the Silverswords return four starters from a 16-11 team, they will have to replace the biggest component of their offense. Zack Whiting is playing professionally in Germany after averaging nearly a triple-double last season with 19.5 points, 11.9 assists and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 58.5 percent.
“We have good guards coming in, but none of them have stepped up and shown us right now that they’re the guy to take over for us and kind of lead us the right way,” Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said. “We’re going to rely definitely on our seniors and especially Marco Kolaric and Stu Kussler to try and help us find our identity right now.”
The 7-foot Kolaric averaged 11.4 points and 9.8 rebounds last season, finishing 19th among Division II players in rebounding. Kessler, a 6-5 swingman, contributed 12.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
The Silverswords opened their season with a 102-58 rout of Golden State Baptist.
The winner of this game will play either LSU or Oklahoma State in the semifinals on Tuesday, while the losers will meet in the consolation bracket.