VIDEO: Warming Up for the 2011 EA SPORTS Maui InvitationalNovember 20, 2011, 1:13 PM HST · Updated November 21, 9:12 AM 0 Comments
By Wendy Osher
An eight-team field will take center court this week on Maui, in the 28th edition of the nation’s premier early-season college basketball tournament – the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Championship Round.
“We’ve never had a better field at the Maui Invitational,” said Jay Bilas, ESPN basketball and studio analyst. “We’re really looking forward to a tremendous week of basketball here on the island,” he said.
The tournament tips off on Monday, November 21, 2011 at the intimate Lahaina Civic Center, featuring: Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA and host Chaminade.
The field is considered one of the strongest in the tournament’s history, with five of the teams ranked in the Preseason AP Top 25 and the Preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll Top 25.
“Over the past 28 years, the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational has signified the tip-off to the college hoops season,” said Tournament Chairman David Odom. “We will see this tradition continue in 2011 with one of the best field in tournament history. As the college basketball world’s eyes turn to Maui, we look forward to a week of fierce collegiate competition set in paradise.”
In his fifth appearance at the tournament, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “It obviously has been a highlight for our program, and we’ve always been well-received.”
The Duke team took the tournament title in 1992, 1997, 2001, 2007. They are among four teams competiting this year, that have won the title in years past including: Michigan (1985, 1988), Kansas (1996) and UCLA (2006). All eight teams, including Division II Chaminade, participated in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Duke tips off against Tennessee tomorrow in day-one of championship competition. “We have a younger team and we’re still learning about ourselves. This tournament hopefully will help us in our progress to become a really good team,” said Krzyzewski.
Ben Howland of UCLA returns to Maui after coaching the 2006 Maui Invitational champions. “It’s always fun to come to Maui. The fans here are great. It’s always a pleasure to be here and be part of this community,” said Howland.
“Our team is excited–I think every team is–there’s so much talent; there’s so many good players from each of these teams. Competition is fierce, so we’re excited; we’re looking forward to playing Chaminade, and looking forward to being here for the next three days,” said Howland.
The ESPN networks will combine once again to offer live television coverage of all 12 Championship Round games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. The ESPN and ESPN2 games will also be streamed live on ESPN3.com.
Local coverage will be carried on ESPN550 AM radio station, in coordination with Pacific Radio Group; and select post-game press conferences can be found here on MauiNow.com.
The on-site Tournament Box Office at the Lahaina Civic Center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the weekend leading up to the tournament; and on game days from 8 a.m. to one-half hour after the end of the last game. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 808.667.DUNK (3865). Depending on the outcomes of Monday’s and Tuesday’s games, there may be additional single game tickets available through the on-site Box Office.
The Thanksgiving week tournament runs through Wednesday, November 23rd.