’Swords Open Home Hoops Play Friday At McCabe Gym

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 entirely 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 All-Pac 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 short. “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, Australia) 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 the first 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 televised 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.