Its MAUI WOWEE time!!!! Yes its time for the Maui Invitational, that tournament that gets America’s collective juices flowing, with spirited games, visions of Chaminade dancing in your heads, and pictures of Rick Majerus in a Hawaiian shirt. It is a great time had by all and is always a tournament I try to catch. Of course this year, it will be an even better event, as our beloved Kentucky Wildcats will be taking the floor at the site of some great memories. There is of course the time in 1993 that Jeff Brassow made the second most famous tip-in in UK history (just behind that by Cedric Jenkins), causing Rick Pitino to run up and down the court like a silly school girl. There was our disappointing loss to Arizona in 1997, when the Cats attempt to revenge the Championship game the year before went down in flames. And of course there was our last trip in 2001 where we lost to Virginia……well that wasnt very memorable, but you get my point.
This year the Cats have already made a splash. Woo has taken the Maui island by storm, teaching Polish to the natives and attempting to learn to hula (lets hope that he doesnt pull an “Alice” from the Brady Bunch and throw out his hip). Stories abound that the UK fanbase is taking the island by storm, with close to a thousand UK Fans supposedly bringing that Bluegrass flavor to the home of Chaminade.
But there is basketball to be played!!! And the Cats first game is against those Demons of a Deacon, Depaul. Depaul is of course coached by former Richmond coach Jerry Wainwright, a man best known for looking like a life-long smoker.
Depaul was one of the better Big East teams at the end of last season and have been picked by many to be a surprise Big East team and a possible NCAA tournament participant. Well someone better tell them then. Depaul has started slow, losing badly to Bradley (thats rhymes) and being embarrassed by fellow Chicago obscure college team, Northwestern, 49-39. Depaul is led by Sammy Meija, the best player that you have never heard of (actually that isnt true, but I am trying to be kind) and is attempting to win with what they call a “big four guard lineup”.
For the Cats this should be a test. Depaul has played better, winning their last game handily over Eastern Illinois. Last year, quick perimeter guards hurt UK and this will be a test to see if that deficiency has been improved. Kentucky has a tendency to get off to slow starts and the worry of fatigue has caused some to show concern. But all teams are dealing with the same travel difficulties and Derrick Jasper’s win at the XBox contest today suggests that everyone is focused. I see the Cats by 13 in a game that starts close, but gets wider in the second half. 74-61.
And while you are learning about Depaul, watch this video of their 2006 Dodgeball Team. These guys throw the ball and hit each other square in the head…..HARD. Kind of bizarrely interesting….