’Swords Open Home Hoops Play Fri­day At McCabe Gym

MidWeek Islander (East Oahu) - - EAST OAHU SPORTS - By JACK DANILEWICZ

Long be­fore Eric Bo­vaird put his own im­print on Cham­i­nade bas­ket­ball, the Sil­ver­swords could be counted on to play the tough­est Di­vi­sion II sched­ule in the na­tion.

That won’t change this sea­son, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We want to play the teams that can ex­pose our weak­nesses,” ex­plained Bo­vaird, now en­ter­ing his third year as head coach. “I think that makes us a bet­ter team. It def­i­nitely makes it fun. Ob­vi­ously, the Maui In­vi­ta­tional gives us a bulk (of de­mand­ing games), and then we have UH (Hawaii).

“Be­fore Christ­mas, we’ll also play some good GLIAC (Great Lakes In­ter­col­le­giate Ath­letic Con­fer­ence) teams. We’ve got­ten away from sched­ul­ing ( sure) wins (against lower-tier teams). We’re not overly con­cerned with wins and losses (in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber).

“We’re try­ing to pre­pare for PacWest Con­fer­ence play and hav­ing a chance to get into the NCAA (DII) tour­na­ment.”

Bo­vaird and Cham­i­nade are com­ing off a stellar sea­son that saw the ‘Swords go 19- 11 ( 14- 4 in the PacWest) en route to earn­ing a berth in that cov­eted NCAA tour­na­ment.

Four key re­turnees from that team will lead the way this win­ter, al­though the rest of the ros­ter is filled with new­com­ers. Bo­vaird will now have a team en­tire- ly made up of play­ers he re­cruited to Cham­i­nade.

“Ev­ery one of them is my type of player,” he said. “They are all pretty fast, they’re quick, and they can shoot the ball from the out­side. That be­ing said, 11 of our 16 play­ers are com­pletely new, so I have to work in­cred­i­bly hard.”

The re­turnees in­clude Lee Bai­ley, Kevin Hu, Rhys Mur­phy and Tyree Har­ri­son. Bai­ley is slated to be the ‘Swords’ point guard af­ter earn­ing Third Team Al­lPac West hon­ors last sea­son. A ju­nior from Detroit, he av­er­aged 11.1 points and a team-best 3.4 as­sists per game last year.

Mur­phy started the first 10 games last year be­fore an in­jury cut his sea­son s hort. “He’s back and healthy again,” Bo­vaird said. “All four of them are play­ing pretty well. I ex­pect them all to be in a po­si­tion to play a lot of min­utes.”

Among the new­com­ers ex­pected to con­trib­ute im­me­di­ately, Bo­vaird had high praise for Di­vi­sion I-trans­fer Christo­pher Varidel (Switzer­land/Florida Gulf Coast) and fresh­men Kuany Kuany (Mel­bourne, Aus­tral i a) and Ki­ran Shas­tri (Orinda, Calif.).

“Varidel has had some knee in­juries lately, but he’s very, very ta­lented. If he stays healthy, he’ll be highly suc­cess­ful. Kuany is a 6-6 guard who can han­dle the ball and shoot. Kirin is a re­ally, re­ally good of­fen­sive player. We’ve been work­ing on our de­fense, but he’s an in­cred­i­bly ta­lented of­fen­sive player.”

Cham­i­nade opens its sea­son at McCabe Gym at 7:30 p.m. Fri­day, when the ’Swords take on Di­vi­sion II power Western Oregon Univer­sity. The game will mark t he fi r s t of 14 Cham­i­nade home dates.

The team opens the 30th an­nual Maui In­vi­ta­tional against Bay­lor Nov. 25, and will face ei­ther Gon­zaga or Day­ton Nov. 26. Pos­si­ble op­po­nents for Nov. 27 are Syra­cuse, Min­nesota, Cal­i­for­nia or Arkansas.

Cham­i­nade’s first-round game with Bay­lor Nov. 25 will tip off at 4:30 p.m. Hawai­ian time and will be t ele­vised na­tion­ally on ESPNU. The team’s Nov. 26 and 27 games will be shown on ei­ther ESPN or ESPN 2.

The ’Swords’ much-an­tic­i­pated game with Univer­sity of Hawaii will take place Dec. 14 at Kauai High School.

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