Maui Invitational Preview

The Sun Devils head to Maui to open their 2007-2008 campaign in an extremely competitive field in the 23rd annual Maui Invitational. ASU won this tournament in 1994 and come back to the Aloha State looking to start off their new season with their new squad with a bang. The loaded field includes Illinois, Duke, Princeton, Oklahoma State, LSU, Marquette, and the host Chaminade.

The clear favorites in the tournament are Duke and Marquette but every other team is very capable of capturing the title in Lahaina.

Here's a look at the teams participating in the event:

Arizona State Sun Devils

After a tumultuous 8-22 campaign in coach Herb Sendek's first season in Tempe, the Sun Devils enter the new season with a new heap of talent and a confident attitude. Junior F Jeff Pendergraph will be the central figure on both ends of the floor and true Freshman James Harden and Jamelle McMillan will be jump-starting the offense in the backcourt. Also in the mix is 6-10 Duke-transfer, Eric Boateng, who will provide some relief down low for Pendergraph and be a force on offense and defense.

Why ASU Will Win

The Sun Devils are a team that just about everyone had trouble with last season because of their feisty defense but we were able to win because of ASU's lethargic offense. This season, the feisty defense returns, but a more potent offense joins the party. If the Sun Devils can open up against Illinois shooting well, the Illini will be in trouble and the rest of the field will have to take notice.

Why ASU Won't Win

All the talent in the world can mean nothing if there is no experience to back it up. ASU will start three true freshmen and a sophomore that sat out all of last year. Furthermore, ASU is the last school in the country to start their season and even after two solid exhibition victories, it is still hard to gauge where the Sun Devils are in terms of their progress.


4th place. Pendergraph and Harden will help the Sun Devils race past Illinois in their opener but will find trouble with Duke in the second round.


A traditional Big Ten power, Illinois comes to Maui with their staunch defense and strong post play. Led by Seniors Shaun Pruitt and Brian Randle, the Illini will go down low early and often and fight for the ball on every defensive possession to frustrate their opponents. Junior G Chester Frazier was an All-Big-Ten defensive team selection last year and JUCO transfer Rodney Alexander will cause match-up problems with his long, athletic frame.

Why Illinois Will Win Illinois coach Bruce Weber's formula for success has always been defense and if the Illini can manage to frustrate their opponent's offensive game plans, they will be able to dictate the tempo and let Pruitt and Randle do the damage.

Why Illinois Won't Win

Aside from Pruitt and Randle, this team has no real offensive identity and if Frazier and Alexander cannot carry their load on the offensive end, Pruitt and Randle won't have enough to carry the team.


6th Place. This team will have a fine season but this field is too tough and the Illini are too unproven to perform well out of the gates.


With all five starters back, Princeton is an experienced team with a proud tradition of fundamental play at both ends of the court. Led by seniors Kyle Koncz and Noah Savage and the sophomore backcourt of Marcus Schroeder and Lincoln Gunn, the Tigers are a driven squad with the confidence to beat anyone.

Why Princeton Will Win

Crazier things have happened; Princeton has the right recipe for success: experienced team and three-point shooting. Opening against Duke will be tough but if they can get past the Blue Devils, who knows what could happen.

Why Princeton Won't Win

Aside from Chaminade, Princeton is working with smallest disposal of talent in the field and will be overwhelmed by Duke and the other teams they will face.


7th Place. They will work hard and give teams all they can handle but ultimately, their lack of size will hinder them.


Coach K has another loaded squad and consequently the Blue Devils are the favorite in this year's Maui Invitational. Senior DeMarcus Nelson and Junior Greg Paulus lead Duke in the backcourt and with Sophomore G Jon Scheyer and Freshman F Kyle Singler; this team is stacked with talent and will be able to compensate for their lack of size with shooting and depth.

Why Duke Will Win

The Blue Devils have eight McDonald's All-Americans on their roster and although last season was a disappointment, they come back this year hungry and determined. Look for the Dukies to shoot the lights out in Maui and come back with the hardware.

Why Duke Won't Win

If Duke can't hit their shots and do get out-rebounded, they may find themselves in a hole but Coach K is the best in the business and his team should be able to handle this field.


1st Place. Nelson and Singler will strut their skills and the Blue Devils will be crowned the champion.


The Golden Eagles return all five starters from a year ago including star guards Dominic James and Jerel McNeal. With their up-tempo style and relentless pressure defense, Marquette will be the team to beat in their side of the bracket in Maui.

Why Marquette Will Win

James and McNeal are studs and the Golden Eagles are a fast team that can put points up in a hurry.

Why Marquette Won't Win

Marquette's biggest flaw is their lack of proven players in the frontcourt. If they can't get solid play down low, the Golden Eagles will be a one-trick pony and could get beaten.


2nd Place. Marquette will beat Chaminade and be able to fight off LSU or Oklahoma State before falling to a better Duke team in the championship game.


The host of the tournament, the Silverswords of Chaminade will forever be remembered as the unknown NAIA team that beat top-ranked Virginia in 1982 in what many call the greatest upset in college basketball history. This year, the Swords are led by Serbian C Marko Kolaric and G Stewart Kussler. An experienced team, Chaminade is a very good Division II team and plays hard every year in this tournament.

Why Chaminade Will Win

If they beat Ralph Sampson and the Virginia Cavaliers 25 years ago, the hosts can beat anyone if their opponents aren't careful.

Why Chaminade Won't Win

They are going to be overwhelmed with the amount of size and athleticism they will be facing and go down hard.


8th Place. The Silverswords will try their best but the field is just too tough.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys are an unknown team coming into this season and the Maui Invitational. They lost their top two scorers from a year ago and didn't make the NCAA Tournament. Senior F Marcus Dove will be the experienced big man that the Cowboys will lean on. However, expect much of the scoring opportunities to come from Freshman G James Anderson, a true phenom that has already shown he can handle the duties of being the focal point in his first few games in Stillwater.

Why Oklahoma State Will Win

If Dove can dominate inside and Anderson and G Terrell Harris can light up the scoreboard from the outside, they will be a load for anyone.

Why Oklahoma State Won't Win

They have very little experience and LSU will be a tough game in round one. If the Cowboys struggle from the field, they will have no chance to make any noise in the tournament.


3rd Place. – The Cowboys will surprise LSU but get ousted by Marquette before battling ASU in their last game.


Like Oklahoma State, LSU is a team with a lot of talent but short on experience. The Bayou Bengals return guards Tasmin Mitchell and Garrett Temple to run the show and true freshman Anthony Randolph will be asked to carry the load inside. Mitchell and Randolph are All-SEC talents and Temple is a "glue" player of the team that the squad feeds off of.

Why LSU Will Win

Randolph is one of the most hyped freshmen in the country and Mitchell is a star. If these two can compliment each other and get hot at opportune times, LSU can really flourish.

Why LSU Won't Win

Mitchell is a great player but he has never been the primary option and this year he will get all the attention from opponents. Furthermore, Randolph is a great talent but is still very raw and could get out muscled in the paint.


5th Place. – the Tigers will struggle against Oklahoma State but will pound Chaminade then get to face Illinois in the consolation game.

Tournament Champions – Duke

Tournament MVP – DeMarcus Nelson, Duke

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