Chaminade is the NCAA Div. II school that will forever be known for its men’s basketball team’s shocking 77-72 victory over the No. 1-ranked Virginia Cavaliers in Hawaii back in 1982.
That was the Virginia team featuring dominating center Ralph Sampson.
“It’s something I hear about once every week of my life,” 13th-year Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said Sunday. “I could be walking around anywhere on the islands, or even on the mainland: If I have a Chaminade shirt on, people say, ‘You’re the school that beat Virginia.’ I say, ‘Yep yep.’”
Bovaird was speaking at a news conference in advance of the 40th annual Maui Invitational, which runs Monday through Wednesday at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center on the University of Hawaii campus.
Bovaird’s Silverswords (1-2), who were actually an NAIA program at the time of the Virginia game, will meet No. 1-ranked Kansas (3-0) in a first-round Maui Invitational game at 8 p.m. Central Time on Monday.
“That game has meant a lot to our university,” Boivard said. “That led to the formation of the Maui Invitational, which is so dear to us. It’s such a special event. It was an incredible piece of basketball history. Hopefully someday we’ll be able to remake that.”
What about this year?
“I don’t know about this week,” Bovaird said. “I watched Kansas play the last three games. I don’t think I’ve slept in three nights.”
Getting to play the No. 1 team in the country in Hawaii, in the tournament’s 40th season, has caught the attention of Chaminade’s current players.
“Our guys are excited,” Bovaird said. “They have the opportunity to play against this level of competition. It’s something they dreamed about since they were little kids. We are really looking forward to this opportunity.”
KU is 4-0 all-time against the Silverswords in the Maui Invitational. KU defeated Chaminade in the first round in 2015 and again in 2019 en route to winning the tourney both times.
“No, it doesn’t seem crazy,” Bovaird said playing of being matched against KU so often in the Maui tourney. “I have a lot of discussions with Dave Odom, who organizes the tournament. I figure if you are going to play in the tournament, you might as well play the best.
“He throws it out there, ‘What do you think about who you want to play?’ I figure, ‘Why not start out with the best?’’’ Bovaird said.
Of top-ranked KU, Bovaird said: “They are so versatile in so many ways, in all positions. “There’s not one way you can hang with Kansas. If you try to take away one guy, then other guys are going to beat you.
“We know Hunter Dickinson is going to be an incredible challenge for us on the inside. Their point guard, Dajuan Harris, is an incredible passer. KJ Adams ia a pretty remarkable talent. We know what we are up against. We are going to give it our best shot and go for it.”
Chaminade is actually located in Honolulu, thus the Silverswords figure to have more of their own fans at the 2023 Invitational than past editions of the tourney, which is typically held on the island of Maui. This year’s tournament has been moved because of the devastating summer wildfires that hit Lahaina, Maui, the event’s usual site.
“I’m expecting a lot of local support.” Bovaird said. “I think there will be a lot of people from the island of Oahu that finally get a chance to see the tournament that are so excited and are going to root for the local team. Kansas has a pretty strong following of fans, but I think our fans are going to be louder.”
Chaminade is 8-98 all-time in the Maui Invitational, 0-4 versus Kansas. Chaminade’s last Maui win over a Div. I school was a 96-72 rout of Cal in 2017. Chaminade beat Texas 86=72 in the 2012 tourney.
Chaminade has an exceptional player in 6-foot-2 senior guard Isaac Amaral-Artharee, who averages 19.5 points per game. Amaral-Artharee was voted to the Pacific West Conference preseason team, as selected by the conference coaches.
He has led the Silverswords in scoring each of the last three seasons; in 2022-23 averaged a career-best 16.1 points per game. Last season he ranked among Pac West leaders in scoring, field goal percentage (45.1), 3-point percentage (39.1), 3-point field goal per game (2.0) and free throw percentage (84.0).
Chaminade was picked to finish sixth in the 11-team PacWest Conference in the preseason coaches poll.
“He would have to be considered one of the best players we’ve had,” Bovaird said. “We’ve had a lot of really good players. a lot playing professional basketball overseas. He didn’t start out that way. With hard work he developed into the player he’s become.”
Bovaird said he’s appreciative that other college-hoops coaches, such as KU’s Bill Self and Brad Underwood of Illinois, have helped out in the wake of the fires. Self and Underwood organized an exhibition game that Self recently said raised more than $1 million for Maui relief.
“I’m so proud of the schools and coaches that jumped on board when the fires happened,” Bovaird said. “Within that week (of fires in summer), there were so many calls from coaches: ‘What can we do? How can we help? Some of the ways are the Maui Strong Fund, Helping the Hawaii Community Fund. I jump on the auction frequently. There are a lot of (fundraiser) items I’d love to bid on.”
Boivard was referring to the ‘Hoops for ‘Ohana’ auction. Launched in September, it’s being held in partnership with the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund. The fund is dedicated to providing financial resources toward ongoing relief efforts.