Silversword Hoopsters Aiming High For Maui Tournament

In local college basketball, the month of November always belongs to Chaminade. This week, as they compete in the Maui Invitational, the host Silverswords have a chance to showcase their program to a national TV audience. A CUH preview is below.

At a glance: Chaminade went 11-14 overall (9-9 in the PacWest) last year.

Head coach: Eric Bovaird is in his second season, having previously been the No. 1 assistant for one of the nation’s top DII programs at West Liberty. The Hilltoppers, who advanced to the DII NCAA semifinals two years ago, averaged an amazing 110 points per game in 2010-11. Bovaird is well on his way to solidifying that same offensive system with the ‘Swords.

Star watch: Senior De’Andre Haskins is poised to have a great finish to his solid career with the Silverswords. The Long Beach, Calif., native was a key cog on Chaminade’s NCAA DII Tournament team two years ago before an injury derailed his junior season. He has had a huge impact for the Swords in his return and recently was honored as PacWest Player of the Week after averaging 21.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game through CUH’s first two outings. He tied for second in scoring, fourth in rebounding and sixth in assist average for the week in the PacWest. Haskins shot 51.7 percent (15 for 29) from the field and made 90.9 percent (10 for 11) of his free throw attempts.

Also on everyone’s radar: Sophomore guard Lee Bailey, who comes here by way of Detroit County Day High School, which is known for producing NBA players Chris Webber and Shane Battier. Bailey lived up to his reputation as a difference-maker, earning PacWest Freshman of the Year honors last season. He’s off to another great start this time, having averaged 16.0 points, 2.0 steals and 2.5 assists per game during the first week of action.

Can’t-miss game 1:

The Maui Invitational. CUH plays its third televised game in as many days Wednesday against an opponent that was still to be determined. Chaminade was to play Texas Monday and either Illinois or USC Tuesday. Possible opponents Wednesday include Butler, Marquette, Missis-sippi State and North Carolina. Both games also were shown on ESPN.

Can’t-miss game 2:

Dec. 15, versus the University of Hawaii at The Barn at Molokai High. Landing UH on its schedule for the second time in four years is a real coup for the Division II Silver-swords, who will technically be the home team for this game. Playing the Rainbow Warriors has a way of bringing out the best in CUH, which extended UH to the limit before losing a close one, 70-61, in December of 2009.

Can’t-miss game 3:

Versus Brigham Young-Hawaii Feb. 9 at McCabe Gym. Arguably the toughest home game on the slate, this could be a key matchup as the PacWest race plays out. With wins not easy to come by on the road, winning at home is paramount for the Silverswords, and this game should provide one of their biggest challenges among Division II opponents. Chaminade and BYUH also will meet Feb. 2, at Cannon Activities Center in Laie.

Game to be on upset alert for: Jan. 5 versus Holy Names at McCabe Gym. The Silverswords will be playing their first game in 21 days, so they’ll need to shake off the effects of the long layoff.

Fearless prediction: Bovaird’s system has taken root, so expect CUH to be among the top offensive teams in Division II in the nation. It says here Chaminade will tie for second (along with BYUH) in the Pacific West Conference en route to an at-large berth in the NCAA DII Tournament.