The brutal thing about the Maui Invitational is that the teams just keep on playing.
So less than 24 hours after the Dayton Flyers deflated the sails of the Bulldogs early season, Gonzaga turns around and has a game against the Division II hosts of the Maui Invitational.
We'll keep this section brief. For everyone that saw the Dayton game, it exposed a lot of what every one knew could be exposed this year. For everyone that didn't see the Dayton game, go ahead and watch it if you want to. It was a frustrating game for sure, especially considering the outcome, but also wildly entertaining at times.
Meet the opponent
Chaminade Silverswords (2-1)
Everyone knows the story of Chaminade by now. Way back in 1982, little Chaminade beat the the top ranked Virginia Cavaliers led by Ralph Sampson and Rick Carlisle. Flash forward thirty years, and the little team that could hosts one of the premier early-season tournaments that they forcefully throw themselves into the mix of. The results have been a bit middling, and generally provide embarrassment for their opponent. Chaminade, including their loss to Baylor last night, is 7-79 in the Maui Invitational, although the last win came in 2012 against the Texas Longhorns.
Chaminade is led by Chrisopher Varidel, who after a 42 point explosion against Baylor, is now averaging 34 points per game. They are undersized, and collectively as a team own just three blocks on the year. Despite that, they are aggressive on the boards. Baylor used its size to outrebound the Swords pretty heartily, but Chaminade in their first two games of the year averaged 47 rebounds a game. Most importantly, close to one-third of those rebounds were on the offensive end.
What to watch for
First off, lets not look past the fact that Chaminade is 7-79. The Bulldogs were just delivered a gut-punch by the Flyers last night, and it will be interesting to see how the team reacts. On paper, this shouldn't even be a contest, but paper isn't actually where results are decided in basketball. Against Dayton, the Zags lost to a hungrier team. At times they were able to match the energy, but throughout most of the game (and especially in the second half), the Flyers wanted the game more, pure and simple. Chaminade plays every single one of these games against D-I opponents like a starving wolf. The Zags can't be looking past the game to a potential fight against Arkansas or Minnesota. Take care of business first.
Varidel went completely off on the Bears, scoring 42 points. That is one shy of Adam Morrison's Maui Invitational record. The most frightening part is where he decides to score most of this points -- from beyond the arc. Varidel was 10-for-16 from three-point land on the night, and as a team the Swords shot 43.8 percent. As usually is the case in Gonzaga losses, perimeter defense was suspect against Dayton. Chaminade has the tools to burn you if you leave them open.
There were 53 fouls called in the game against Dayton as the Bulldogs got their first taste of the new rules emphasis. The worst part about those 53 fouls are the five that Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski logged. The worst part about those Przemek Karnowski fouls are the two bone-headed fouls he picked up to put the Zags frontcourt in such a precarious position. Foul number three inexplicably came with less than five seconds left in the first half, and foul number four came when he collapsed on a crowd of players going for a lose ball with 19 minutes to go in the second half. Chaminade is a small team, so the Zags won't be giving up a size advantage when one of the two hits the bench, but Karnowski has to get his fouling issues under control. Otherwise, Dayton will do what every team in the future will do -- completely expose our woefully thin frontcourt.
Gonzaga should win this. Let's rinse the bar floor taste out of our collective mouths from last night's bender and welcome this new day with open arms.
Tuesday, Nov. 26, 1:30 p.m. PT