Nov. 23, 2003
LAHAINA, Hawai'i - The Santa Clara University men's basketball team arrived in Hawai'i Saturday afternoon to sunshine and traditional island hospitality, complete with flower leis and palm trees.
But, once the coaches and players boarded the team bus it was business as usual for the Broncos. The team went immediately to its scheduled 90-minute practice at the Lahaina Civic Center, the site of Monday's first round EA SPORTS Maui Invitational contest against the University of Hawai'i.
"Getting a chance to practice right when we got here was good for our team" said Head Coach Dick Davey, who led the Broncos to wins over fourth-ranked UCLA and Michigan State in the 1995 event. "We got a chance to get the kinks of the long trip out of our system and back ot the reality of the main reason we are here. I was happy with our team's focus and intensity in practice and I thought it was one of our better workouts recently."
In addition to the usual assortment of workers hurrying to prepare the facility for the tournament, among those in attendance were Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas. The two will be among the threesome assigned to cover the tournament for the 24-hour sports cable network, along with Sean McDonough. Santa Clara's first round game against Hawai'i will be televised live on ESPN2. Subsequent appearances will be dependent on the team's performance.
Every game will be broadcast live in the Bay Area on KSFB-AM 1220 as well as on the Internet at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com.
Following practice, the team checked into the Sheraton Maui Kaanapali Beach Report, its home away from home for the next five days. Davey rushed to an one-on-one beachside interview with ESPN, while the assistant coaches and administrators attended to making preparations for the stay.
The team had some time to check out the hotel and neighboring shopping and dining areas before assembling for a team photo on the beach. Dressed in beach attire supplied by EA SPORTS in the team's gift allotment, the Broncos posed with a customized surfboard that displayed the familiar block SC.
Afterwards the team attended a players-only dinner and greeting that featured a NCAA March Madness 2004 Playstation contest between members of the eight participating teams. Two players from each team were preselected to participate in the tournament and Linden Tibbets and Doron Perkins played for Santa Clara. Tibbets was eliminated quickly by Julian Sensley of Hawai'i, while Perkins advanced to the second round before bowing out.
Rain prevented the completion of the tournament, but organizers were planning to reconvene during the weekend to determine the champion.
Following the press conference, the eight coaches paired with local youth players to participate in a charity free throw shooting contest. Each team took three shots and received one point for each made shot. The top two teams advanced to the championship finals.
Davey and his partner, 14-year-old Kapena Kalehuawehe-Gomes of Wailuku, San Diego State Head Coach Steve Fisher both advanced to the tournament finals. Fisher and his partner narrowly took first place by one shot.
Throughout the day, the players, assistant coaches and their families spent time shopping and enjoying the beach. The team conducted a 3:30 p.m. practice at Lahaina High School. That night, tournament organizers conducted a sunset reception and the Santa Clara Alumni Association conducted a social event for Bronco fans.
"We've really had a great time so far," said redshirt freshman Scott Dougherty. "But, we are all trying not to overdo it. Maybe an hour or two in the sun is about all we plan to do today. We have practice at 3:30 and we need to be ready to work. We haven't lost sight of our reason for being here.
"It is pretty humorous watching some of the guys, though. Travis (Niesen) and Brandon (Rohe) are Southern California boys so they know all the tricks in the surf. And, once Alex (Kargbo) gets in he doesn't want to come out. So, it's been fun watching how everyone reacts to the waves and just being here in general."
Monday's first game will feature Villanova from the Big East Conference against the host school, Division II Chaminade, which is looking to snap its 30-game losing streak in the tournament. The last win for the Silverswords was in the 1992 seventh-place game when they beat Stanford in double overtime.
Santa Clara's second round game will be either the winner or loser of that Chaminade-Villanova matchup.