Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, December 19, 2001


Seasiders look to
trip up D-I teams

BYUH tries to become Hawaii's
third Division II team
to get a Division I win

By Brandon Lee

Chaminade, Hawaii-Hilo and Hawaii Pacific had their chances to hoop it up against Division I competition.

A month later, the Brigham Young-Hawaii basketball team has "got next."

Starting tomorrow and running through Saturday, the Seasiders take their turn playing holiday-tournament host to seven Division I teams with the Yahoo! Sports Invitational.

The Vulcans and Sea Warriors each scored one victory -- and narrowly missed a second -- in their Thanksgiving-weekend tournaments this season, while the Silverswords fell just short of one win in their Maui Invitational.

BYUH intends to be even less hospitable on the court than its local Division II and Pacific West Conference counterparts.

"We're going in expecting to compete and play well against anybody we meet," BYUH coach Ken Wagner said. "Yes, we're confident. We feel if we play smart and play hard, we should do well."

Held at the Cannon Center on the Seasiders' Laie campus, BYUH is joined in the tournament by last year's NIT champion, Tulsa, as well as Buffalo, Columbia, Montana, Navy, New Mexico State and Valparaiso.

The Seasiders (7-3) conclude tomorrow's action with an 8 p.m. nightcap against Columbia (6-2). Earlier action in BYUH's bracket pits Valparaiso (7-2) against New Mexico State (4-4). In the other bracket, Navy (1-5) takes on Montana (4-5), and Tulsa (6-1) and Buffalo (5-2) play in the tournament opener.

The Seasiders are coming off a one-point nonconference loss to Lincoln on Monday, ending a five-game winning streak. BYUH will have to rebound quickly against Columbia, as the Lions bring with them last year's Ivy League Player of the Year, Craig Austin.

"(Columbia is) awfully good," Wagner said. "They use the Princeton (University) style with a lot of backdoor cuts and shooting the 3. But we've competed well with some good teams in the past in this tournament and lost some close ones, and we think we can do a little better and get some wins."

Last year, BYUH tested the opposition in all three of its tournament games, even challenging eventual NCAA Elite Eight finisher Southern California until the late minutes of their first-round contest. Iowa State was the 2000 Yahoo! champion.

On the Web

For more information on the Yahoo! Sports Invitational, visit:

Still, prior to this season, the state's four Division II schools had combined for just five wins over Division I teams in the collective histories of their tournaments (though Hilo beat Chaminade in the 1993 Big Island Invitational).

This meager total spanned 17 years of the Maui Invitational, nine years of the Big Island Invitational, and three years each of the Yahoo! (formerly Pearl Harbor) Invitational and HPU Thanksgiving Classic. Chaminade accounted for three of the victories, and BYUH and Hilo one each.

But, with nearly half that total matched already after the Sea Warriors' victory over Liberty and the Vulcans' win over South Carolina State last month, the Seasiders feel not only capable, but further motivated to pick up their first tournament win since beating Citadel in 1999.

"We can't take steps forward without looking at our competition on the island," said center Scott Salisbury, who contributes 14.6 points and 10.8 rebounds a game to a deep BYUH squad. "So yeah, we've noticed (the HPU and Hilo wins), and it's important to win. ... Being able to win in this tournament would be a huge boost for our conference schedule and beyond."

After the tournament, BYUH has just one nonconference game remaining before beginning its PacWest schedule at HPU on Jan. 5.

Hawaii Pacific
U.H. Hilo

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