Silverswords Prepare For Three DI Games At Maui Tourney

Chaminade’s high-profile schedule has the team ready to face next week’s 2014 Maui Invitational, where it will face three Division I opponents in as many days. Below, MidWeek‘s East Oahu Islander looks at prospects for its 2014-15 basketball season.

At a glance: The ‘Swords return 12 players from last year’s team, which won its first-ever PacWest crown while earning back-to-back NCAA Division II West Regional appearances, also for the first time. Chaminade was 19-13 overall (13-7 in PacWest) in 2013-14.

Starwatch — ‘Swords to keep an eye on: In senior Lee Bailey, the ‘Swords have one of the top DII point guards in the country. He was a First Team All-Conference pick last year and ranked among league leaders in points (17.1 per game) and assists (4.5 per game). A one-time Freshman of the Year, Bailey also was named the PacWest Tournament’s Most Valuable Player last March.

Phoenix-area product James Harper should be ready for a break-out year after coming on late in his sophomore season last March. He started the final 12 games for Chaminade, averaging 7.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. A highlight was his 31-point performance in the PacWest championship game versus Dominican, where he connected on 9-of-12 from beyond 3-point range in the ‘Swords’ 99-83 win.

Sophomore Kuany Kuany of Melbourne, Australia, had one of the most impressive debut seasons in the school’s history, posting eight double-doubles in 2013-14, including 32 points in a win over BYUH in the PacWest tourney. He also earned weekly PacWest honors six times, including Freshman of the Week four times.

Can’t-miss game 1: Versus Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. Nov. 24 on ESPNU. This is the ultimate “spotlight game” for the program, as its Maui Invitational first-round game with the Panthers will be in prime time on national TV. Coached by former Hawaii assistant Jamie Dixon, the Panthers ended 2013-14 with a 26-10 record and a fifth-place finish in their inaugural ACC season. They advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.

Can’t-miss game 2: Versus California Baptist Jan. 29 at McCabe Gym. Cal Baptist was last year’s pacesetter, eventually earning the No. 1 seed for the PacWest tourney, where it lost to Chaminade in the semifinals.

Can’t-miss game 3: Versus UH Dec. 19 at Blaisdell Arena in exhibition — their first meeting on Oahu since Dec. 16, 1982, when Chaminade scored its only win in the series, 56-47.

Prediction: The ‘Swords will defend their title and make a school-record third straight appearance in the NCAA DII tournament.