North Carolina is back in the Maui Invitational for the first time in four years – and is picking up right where it left off. The Tar Heels ended the 2012 Maui Invitational with a 112-70 victory against Chaminade, the Division II team that’s always the tournament host. And on Monday the Tar Heels will begin tournament play against the Silverswords.
Three things to watch when UNC and Chaminade play at the intimate Lahaina Civic Center on Monday night:
1. How Joel Berry responds from his rough game at Hawaii.
Berry averaged more than 20 points during the Tar Heels’ first three games of the season, but he labored through UNC’s 83-68 victory at Hawaii on Friday night. Berry made one of his nine shots from the field and finished with two points. Five of his teammates scored in double figures, and the Tar Heels prevailed with little trouble, nonetheless. Even so, UNC counts on Berry to provide the bulk of the backcourt’s production on offense. The game at Hawaii offered him his first adversity of the season.
2. Whether the Tar Heels quash the Chaminade magic early.
Eric Bovaird, the Chaminade coach, said it best before the Maui Invitational began: The Silverswords’ best hope is to hang around, stay close and hope they have a chance in the final few minutes. Bovaird believes his team, which he expects to be among the best offensive teams in the country at the Division II level, can score points with anybody. UNC can remove any potential drama with a fast, dominating start.
3. UNC’s defense and transition offense.
The Tar Heels eclipsed the 90-point mark in three of its first four games, and it stands a strong chance to do that again against a Chaminade team that can’t match the Tar Heels’ talent and size. Despite the long odds, the Silverswords believe they’re capable of scoring well enough against the Tar Heels. The danger there, for Chaminade, is that the more it tries to run with UNC, the more likely it is the Tar Heels force turnovers. UNC can build a large lead, and in a hurry, if it creates turnovers and gets out in transition.
Team at Team
When: 11:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, Hawaii