Aloha from the beautiful state of Hawaii. Later today, No. 25 Maryland will take on Chaminade in the first round of the Maui Invitational. Chaminade, as you may know, is the Division II program that serves as the host of this tournament.
Last season, Chaminade went 15-12 (7-5 in the PacWest Conference) and was short-handed down the stretch. The Silverswords lost five players over the course of last season and finished two out of their last three games with four players on the court.
As Coach Matt Mahar enters his fifth season at Chaminade, he said he plans to begin to change the program's typical mode of operation. According to Mahar, many college basketball programs in Hawaii fill their rosters with junior college transfers that stay for only one or two seasons. This, of course, leads to high rates of roster turnover each season. Mahar said that after last season the team "had some attrition" and rid itself of several "one-year" players who didn't fit into the coach's vision for the program.
"We signed a bunch of young kids now, so we've got a really young group, but hopefully kids that will stay here three or four years," Mahar said. "We were kind of sick of the one-year kids and the turnover it creates every year. One of those is fine on the team, but if you get two or three of those one-year kids it just doesn't do any good for your program in the years to come, so we signed some younger kids, freshmen and sophomores and a couple of juniors just to add to the mix, but we're a lot younger than we've ever been."
One of the players Mahar said he will count on early this season while he figures out the rest of his roster is junior point guard Steven Bennett (5-foot-6, 150 lbs.). Bennett transferred to Chaminade from Citrus College in Los Angeles. Mahar described Bennett as "jet-quick. He didn't shoot it real well in juco, but is shooting it really, really well right now for us. Surprisingly well, in fact. He finds people when he needs to and can get to the rim. But at 5-6, he's a little bit small. He's undersized, but a tough kid. He plays really hard."
The other player Mahar said he will depend on early is junior guard Chandler Pearson (6-foot-3, 195 lbs.). Pearson "does a little bit of everything," Mahar said. "He shoots it, puts it on the floor a little bit. Just a really tough, hard-nosed kid, the kind of kid that at our level really is going to be a factor in games. I don't know about in Maui with his size, you know, how much of a factor he'll be, but hopefully he can hold his own."
Outside of those two players, Mahar said he wasn't sure at this point who would be seeing a lot of playing time. Chaminade severely lacks interior depth. Sophomore center Mamadou Diarra (7-foot-0, 235 lbs.) was going to be the centerpiece of the Chaminade attack, according to Mahar, but after Diarra transferred from Southern California, he was not granted a full release and so he must sit out this season. Chris Smith (6-foot-10, 205 lbs.), a sophomore center out of Brisbane, Australia, recently suffered a kidney laceration and is "highly doubtful" to play in Maui, according to Mahar.
Senior center Zach Johnson (6-foot-9, 270 lbs.) is Chaminade's most formidable post player. He formerly played at the University of Washington. Last season, Johnson played in 16 games, averaging 1.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest. Over the course of his playing career, Johnson has undergone five knee surgeries.
Other Chaminade frontcourt options include sophomore Matt Cousins (6-foot-8, 220 lbs.), who transferred in from Santa Rosa Junior College, and junior Shane Hanson (6-foot-6, 225 lbs.), who used to play at UC-Davis. Hanson played six games last season and averaged 10.8 points per contest. Mahar said Cousins is "okay, but he's not quite ready yet. We're really thin inside and that's where we're going to struggle big time in Maui."
Senior guard Cartier Carter (6-foot-3, 190 lbs.) provides Chaminade some backcourt depth. He played in 19 games last season and averaged 8.6 points per contest. He formerly played at Santa Ana College.
Chaminade employs a four-out, one-in offense that emphasizes strong perimeter play. The goal is to spread the court out and create space before penetrating into the lane and pitching the ball back out for a long-range attempt. Defensively, the Silverswords mix up their schemes between man-to-man and zone.
"We've been trying to get up and down the court, but I think this year's team is a little bit different," Mahar said. "We'll probably run a little bit more continuity stuff than in the past. In the past, we'd like to fly up the court and not take the first shot, but the first good shot that comes about. We're going to have to be a little more selective this year, especially with all these new kids."
November 23, 2009; 8:36 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
Save & Share: Previous: Friedgen's buyout will not be an obstacle
Next: Friedgen may need to make staff changes to save job
Posted by: ckstevenson | November 23, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.