The good, bad and ugly in Maui
By Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer, 11/30/2002

The 15 hours of plane flights back provided plenty of time for postcard writing and reflection about the last six days at the Maui Invitational.

Here are some of the better thoughts - or at least the semi-relevant ones - memories and observations:

I'm not sure this University of Massachusetts team was ready for three games in three days, especially starting with Indiana and Utah.

Putting this many new players together and expecting them to quickly be ready for that kind of back-to-back competition was probably unrealistic.

A couple days between the Hoosiers and the Utes might have given the Minutemen a better chance to win their second game.

* Anthony Anderson dusted Indiana's A.J. Moye in the EA Sports March Madness 2003 tournament Saturday night and talked a little friendly trash in the process. I could have been imagining it, but when Moye buried a pull-up 3-pointer on a fast-break in Monday's game, I thought I saw him smiling at Anderson.

* Staying with EA Sports - Video-Jackie Rogers with Brennan Martin pressing the buttons is a better free throw shooter than real-Jackie Rogers. And the video Mullins Center has quite a few loud cheering fans and an upper deck for that matter.

*Chaminade would be, at worst, a middle of the pack Patriot League team.

* I was never a Ralph Sampson fan during his playing days, but I've gained a new respect for him since I got here. This is the 20th anniversary of Chaminade upsetting his No. 1-ranked Virginia squad. The members of that Silverswords squad have been honored at every turn here.

That has to be a rough memory for the 7-foot-4 ex-Houston Rocket. But he made the trip here to be part of the celebration. He was gracious throughout, signing autographs and posing for pictures with Chaminade players past and present.

* Living in Hawaii would be hard to adjust to as a sports fan. One local bar was promoting its Sunday football breakfast specials, as East Coast NFL games begin at 7 a.m. on the islands. Watching Monday Night Football at 4 p.m. at an outdoor sports bar when it's still light out just didn't feel right.

* If Micah Brand's ankle isn't bothering him, it could be a long year for him. After a great first half against Indiana, he didn't play well the rest of the tournament on offense or defense. UMass certainly needs him to be the kind of team it wants to be.

* I like Indiana fans more than Kentucky fans (and I'm not alone in that opinion). There appears to have been an equal number of both on the island. Hoosier fans were loud and passionate during the games. But away from the Lahaina Civic Center, Hoosiers fans just blend in with the rest of the vacationers.

Kentucky fans, on the other hand, seem to have this unquenchable need to let everyone know that they're Blue Grass supporters. In addition to constantly wearing blue shirts, hats and God knows what else, they attached flags to their rental cars and hung banners from the balconies of their hotel rooms. Few non-Wildcat fans were disappointed to see them lose to Virginia.

* There is no place far enough from New York to see Yankee hats.

* I can't decide if people who live here actually wear Hawaiian shirts or if I've been to too many tourist spots. I'm thinking it was choice B.

* I think Jeff Viggiano is quickly going to be a crowd favorite. The freshman from Suffield, Conn., made a big impact on the Minutemen in their win over Chaminade without scoring a point. His seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks were all team highs and his assist total would have been more if his pass recipients hadn't missed two layups inside.

The freshman has a good feel for the game. He could be fun to watch over the next four years.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.


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