Upset-minded Chaminade takes on UCLA
Maui, HI (Sports Network) – The Chaminade Silverswords are the host team
of the Maui Invitational, and they will attempt to upset the sixth-ranked
UCLA Bruins in tonight’s opening round.
UCLA has only played one game thus far, and that tilt resulted in an 82-69
decision over BYU last Wednesday. Two starters and nine lettermen return from
last year’s squad that made it all the way to the national championship
game. Although the Bruins lost to Florida, they compiled a 32-7 record and
gave the storied program its 16th Final Four appearance.
As for Chaminade, it won the Pac West Conference title last season, but
the Division II team is obviously playing against competition in this
tournament that it typically doesn’t face. This game marks the season
opener for the Silverswords, who have put up a fight against some elite
teams in past Maui Invitationals. This game is the first-ever meeting
between UCLA and Chaminade on the hardwood.
UCLA permitted BYU to connect on 57.8 percent of its field goal attempts in
Wednesday’s opener, including a 10-of-15 effort from three-point range.
Normally, a team will lose when it allows its opponent to shoot at such a high
percentage. Fortunately for the Bruins, they were able to force 23 turnovers
and outscored the Cougars 21-7 from the foul line. A 31-21 rebounding
advantage also helped the cause. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was tremendous in
the victory, as he scored a career-high 24 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the
floor, and he also pulled down 11 rebounds. Darren Collison pitched in with 16
points for the Bruins, and more impressively he dished out 10 assists with
only one turnover. Joah Shipp tallied 13 points in the contest. Aaron Afflalo,
who is the leading returning scorer for UCLA, was held to nine points, and the
biggest knock on the talented guard is that he is inconsistent.
Chaminade had its best season in 17 years in 2005-06, and Matt Mahar was named
Pac West Conference Coach of the Year. The best returning player for the
Silverswords is Zack Whiting, a dynamic point guard who can do a little bit of
everything on the court. Whiting averaged 14.1 ppg a year ago to go along with
7.9 apg and 5.0 rpg. Starting forward Stewart Kussler and center Marko Kolaric
bring experience and toughness to the frontcourt, and both will benefit from
Whiting’s brilliance. Whiting is the only senior on the roster, so he is
looked to as the team’s unquestioned leader.