Notre Dame draws host Chaminade in Maui Jim Maui Invitational opener
Sixteen college basketball seasons have passed since Notre Dame last did what it will do in November at the 34th annual Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
Play a Division II school.
In its final scheduled appearance as the annual host.
In tournament pairings announced Tuesday morning, Notre Dame is matched against Chaminade University, a school with an enrollment of 2,900 in Honolulu.
That will be the third of four games to open tournament play with a tip time of 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. back in South Bend.
“Everyone’s always watching it,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “We know we’ve got a heck of a challenge facing Chaminade.
“This tournament has always been a barometer of where you’re at early in the season.”
Brey wasn’t surprised to see Notre Dame draw Chaminade. He also expected it, and floated his own conspiracy theory during Tuesday’s coaches’ teleconference.
“I’m wondering if the Pope got involved in this matchup and it’s the Catholic championship of the island to start the tournament,” he said. “It’s going to be a road game for us. We know who everybody’s going to be cheering for except for our fans.”
Carrying seven transfers, Chaminade went 18-11 last season.
The Silver Swords are 7-90 all-time in the tournament; the Irish are 3-3.
The Irish are 1-0 against the Silver Swords with a 94-78 victory in the 1993 Maui Invitational.
“Playing Notre Dame in the first round, it’s exciting for our whole school and the state of Hawaii,” said Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird. “I’ve been a Notre Dame fan for years and it will be a great opportunity to play against them.”
If Notre Dame wins its opener and the brackets hold true, it would get games against Michigan in a Nov. 21 semifinal and a championship matchup Thanksgiving Eve against Wichita State.
Both those contests are scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. Hawaii time, 10:30 in Indiana.
Notre Dame and Wichita State are expected to open the season ranked among the nation’s Top 25.
Other schools in the eight-team field include California, LSU, Marquette and Virginia Commonwealth.
“This is just an incredible test for everybody,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “Every team in this tournament is going to be a great challenge with a great opportunity for growth.”
All three Irish games will be played at the 2,400-seat Lahaina Civic Center, which sits some 4,300 miles away from South Bend.
Notre Dame last faced a Division II team early during the 2001 season, also in Hawaii for a Thanksgiving-week tournament. Current Irish assistant coach Ryan Humphrey scored a career-high 31 points with 10 rebounds in a 98-58 victory over Hawaii Pacific University. The Irish scored 52 points in the second half.
Notre Dame went on to beat Tennessee-Chattanooga and Monmouth to win the tournament championship.
Chaminade has reached the finals of the Maui Invitational only once – in the tournament’s first year (1984) when it lost to Providence. That was the year that Chaminade stunned then-No. 1 Virginia in the tournament, which was held in Honolulu.
This is the last year that Chaminade serves as permanent tournament host. The school will return to the field on an every-other-year basis beginning in 2019.
“You gotta seize the moment,” Bovaird said. “We’re going to cherish the opportunity here this year and try and take advantage of it.”
Notre Dame has also played in Maui in 1993 and 2008.