This 'Sword fight counts


POSTED: Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The last time Hawaii and Chaminade met on Oahu with an official “;W”; on the line, the upstart Silverswords won by nine.

That was only a precursor to the real shocker. Six days later, on Dec. 23, 1982, the 'Swords knocked off top-ranked Virginia 77-72 — the greatest upset in college basketball history and the catalyst for the Maui Classic (now the EA Sports Maui Invitational).

The two schools separated by less than a mile haven't linked up for an official stand-alone game since — until today. UH and Chaminade meet at 7:05 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center in a rare regular-season matchup — only the fourth ever and first since the Rainbow Warriors beat the Silverswords in the '03 Maui semifinals.

Hawaii coach Bob Nash doesn't want to become the latest Division I victim of the upset-minded 'Swords, but was happy to extend an invitation to UH's D-II neighbor when a scheduling opportunity presented itself this season.

“;Certainly Chaminade has a history of knocking off schools they're not supposed to beat,”; Nash said. “;But they've found ways to get it done. So it's on us now to prevent that from happening to the University of Hawaii.”;

If Hawaii (3-4) plays as well as it did against Lamar on Sunday (a 96-78 win), the smaller 'Swords will have a tall task against a UH starting group that features four players at least 6-foot-7.





        Who: Chaminade (1-3) at Hawaii (3-4)

When: Today, 7:05 p.m.


Where: Stan Sheriff Center


TV: KFVE, Ch. 5


Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM


UH's ball movement was at its best so far, as the Rainbows notched 23 assists. Point guard Hiram Thompson had a career high in assists for the second straight game, with nine after dishing out eight in a loss at UC Irvine.

“;We're running our offense better, so that's helping me find open people,”; Thompson said. “;I'm just trying to get everybody involved and get my teammates open looks.”;

The UH captain wants to set a similar tone against his team's D-II neighbor. UH has already beaten fellow PacWest schools Hawaii-Hilo and Brigham Young-Hawaii in preseason exhibitions.

“;Every game's important,”; Thompson said. “;They live a mile away, so you want to send a message. We take pride in being the best team on the island, and we know they're going to come at us hard, because it makes their season if they beat us. For both teams it's very important, and we're gonna go out there and try to win.”;

Chaminade (1-3) took its lumps on Maui this year, with double-digit losses to Vanderbilt, Maryland and Colorado. The 'Swords narrowly defeated Division III La Verne (Calif.) in their only other game, and coach Matt Mahar was less than satisfied.

Still, he and his players are always up to a challenge.

“;It's always tough to come off of Maui and play a Division III team, especially when you played two of the top 40 teams in the country,”; said Mahar, the fifth-year Chaminade coach. “;But we're looking forward to (UH), our guys are excited to play. We know we'll have our hands full with UH; they're big, they're strong and they're athletic. So it's definitely a good thing for our university's basketball program, so we're definitely excited about it.”;

The 'Swords are without key big man Mamadou Diarra, a USC transfer, because the 7-footer wasn't completely released by the Trojans. Thus, rebounding becomes the primary concern for Mahar against lengthy UH, especially after Rainbows forward Petras Balocka notched 20 boards in his last outing.

Five-foot-six point guard Steven Bennett averages 12.5 points a game to lead Chaminade, while Shane Hanson chips in 10.8 per contest. The perimeter-oriented team is shooting just 32.3 percent from the field; more than one-third of Chaminade's baskets are 3-pointers.

“;Obviously, we're going to get a lot of long shots, long rebounds,”; said UH forward Brandon Adams, who's posted back-to-back double-figure games off the bench. “;They shoot a lot, and we'll have to box out a lot because if we don't, they get second chances, lets them spot up for another 3.”;

Roderick Flemings leads UH with 16 points per game.