Tough Basketball Schedule, But Silverswords Ready To Deliver

Keeping up with Chaminade’s schedule is one of the joys of the job for second-year head basketball coach Eric Bovaird.

Fresh from McCabe Gym after morning practice, he settles at his computer to surf. Except it’s not idle surfing. He’s scanning for details about his Silver-swords’ opponents.

Among them are Texas, Illinois and possibly USC, plus a “home date” on Molokai versus University of Hawaii, ensuring once again that Chaminade has the toughest Division II schedule in the country.

“This is my fun – trying to get info on our opponents,” Bovaird said, laughing.

They also play Western Washington in November, the defending DII national champion, and Division II newcomer Cedarville, which won the National Christian College Athletic Association title last winter before moving up. All of this takes place before the PacWest Conference opens, where Chaminade also will play Hawaii Pacific and Brigham Young-Hawaii twice.

“Even without the three games on Maui (at the Maui Invitational), I’d still think we have the toughest schedule,” said Bovaird. “I’ve been all around the country now, and the PacWest has to be one of the top three conferences.”

Bovaird is “way more comfortable” in his post as he enters season No. 2. The Silverswords went 11-14 last year, and hopes are high now with the return of veterans Dominique Cooks, DeAndre Haskins, Waly Coulibaly and Bennie Murray, as well as the complements of a hyped incoming recruiting class.

Haskins’ return figures to be a huge boost. He was a steady force until an injury derailed his junior season last November. “He’ll definitely be a factor, and Dominique, Wally and Benny all played a ton of minutes last year.”

Also back is Lee Bailey, who was PacWest Freshman of the Year last March, after being highly recruited coming out of Detroit Country Day High in Michigan.

Bovaird’s latest edition is more suited to his fast-paced schemes. “I loved coaching last year’s team, but we struggled with playing up tempo. We’re moving in the right direction as far as playing how we want to play. I feel more confident and more comfortable with our way of playing. This year, everybody on our team can shoot; we’ll be able to stretch defenses. We’re multi-dimensional. They can all drive, and they’re all good with the basketball.”

Newcomers include Mike Green and Rhys Murphy, who transferred from Akron University and Oregon State, respectively.

Chaminade will open its season this weekend at the GNAC/PacWest Challenge in Monmouth, Oreg., facing St. Martin’s Friday and Western Oregon Saturday.

Chaminade open its home slate Nov. 14 against defending DII national champ Western Washington. Its Maui Invitational opener against Texas is Nov. 19, to be televised live on ESPNU. All three of its tournament games will be aired nationally by ESPN networks.

Chaminade plays either Illinois or USC in round two on Maui. Possible day three opponents are Butler, Marquette, Mississippi State and North Carolina.