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November 20, 2016
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
BILL WALTON: This is a great tournament field here this year. All these fantastic teams -- Chaminade, Georgetown, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Tennessee, UConn and Wisconsin. 14 national championships between these eight teams, 40 Final Fours, 198 NCAA Tournament appearances. These coaches are well-established, and have been hugely successful over the years. Seven of these coaches have won at least 65 percent of their games. And each have guided their teams deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Two of our coaches have won [NCAA] titles here. Six have coached in the Final Four. We've got a lot of fantastic players here for these teams. North Carolina, last year's runner-up in the tournament. I love little Archie. Joel Berry, Justin Jackson, they return. Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans. Chris Boucher from Oregon, and Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, two of my favorite players and programs, the Wisconsin Badgers.
We'll start today, Eric Bovaird from Chaminade. He's in his sixth season at Chaminade. Four of his top five scorers are back from last year. Two of his players were all conference in that Pacwest Conference. Coach Eric Bovaird has led his Chaminade Silverswords through a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in the last five years. Coach Brovaird, what do you like about your team this year?
COACH BOVAIRD: First off, we have a senior-laden team and guys with a lot of experience. Two of the starters, two of the seniors have been starting for me since day one of their freshman career. So this is the most experienced team that I've had in six years, and so I'm really excited about where we're at. We're 2-0 right now. Last year I was sitting up here we were 0-2 and just got back from a trip from Fairbanks, Alaska. I'm pretty excited about being 2-0 and getting revenge on the Alaska schools.
BILL WALTON: Are you ready to predict a victory against North Carolina?
COACH BOVAIRD: Sure.
BILL WALTON: Next up, John Thompson, III, Georgetown University. Full disclosure, one of our four sons played for John Thompson III at Princeton. And Coach John Thompson, III made him into the man he is today. So thanks very much, Coach.
Here's Coach John Thompson, III. He's in his 13th season with the Hoyas, 17th overall after four years at Princeton, where he played. He led the Hoyas to eight NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 11 years, including one Final Four. Coach Thompson, with his teams have won 20 or more games eight times in the last 11 seasons. Three-time Big East champions and also won three Ivy League championships in four seasons at Princeton. Coach, how is the team looking this year? Are you ready for Maui?
COACH THOMPSON: We're struggling right now, and I don't know whether Maui is the place to get you out of struggling --
BILL WALTON: Whenever you come to Maui everything gets better. Particularly when you put the glasses on.
COACH THOMPSON: I'm leaving them on then. [Laughter] I like our group. I like our group and we're going to figure it out.
We have a group that's working hard. We have some key returning people with some new guys also. So we're sifting through it right now. The guys are working hard. We're plugging. So we're going to figure this out.
BILL WALTON: What are the strengths of the team, Coach? Who should we look for?
COACH THOMPSON: I think we have a group, it can go in a lot of different directions. A kid that hasn't played yet, Bradley Hayes, will be able to play the second game here, who is a fifth-year senior. He's the captain, the rock of the team. Once we get him back that should help a little bit. But we have different people that can step up on different nights. Now we just need to start doing it.
BILL WALTON: What's the best part of coming to Maui, Coach Thompson?
COACH THOMPSON: Sitting here with you, the people and the glasses.
BILL WALTON: I can see clearly now. Thanks, Coach Thompson. Now we moving on to Coach Roy Williams.
Next up is Roy Williams, North Carolina. Now in his 14th season, the Hall of Famer, winning more than 360 games during those 14 years at North Carolina, including the '05 and '09 NCAA championships. Coach Williams' team advanced to the championship game last year. I was there, one of the most thrilling moments of my entire life. Coach Williams has led North Carolina to seven regular season ACC championships during his 14 years there and he's led his squads to 26 NCAA Tournament appearances in 28 seasons as the head coach, some of those coming at Kansas. His teams have won at least 25 games in 21 of his 28 seasons as a head coach. Coach Williams, what stands out for this year's edition of the Tar Heels?
COACH WILLIAMS: Thank you. The biggest thing is I'm sitting up here as President Bernie is leaving, I know I've been here through at least three presidents at the University of Chaminade. It's my sixth trip here, but our club, we started off, we're 4-0, and we haven't played that well except in a couple of moments in certain games. Against Hawaii Friday night, they dominated the game except in the score.
But I like our team. We have six guys back who participated in the run to the national championship game last year. But Joel Berry, Justin Jackson, they're the leaders of our time. Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, Nate Britt are the seniors. But Justin and Joel do a really great job for us, and we'd like to get a little help here.
We've got two guys, Theo Pinson and Luke Maye, that haven't been able to play. And Theo is going to be out at least three, four, five more weeks anyway at least. But I like our club. Love coming to Maui.
As I said, I think this is my sixth trip. And it's always been great. The people here have been great. The people at Chaminade. You guys know how to make people feel comfortable. And as coaches we all appreciate that.
BILL WALTON: Basketball in paradise, yes, and all these great coaches. Roy Williams, the Hall of Famer. Coach, what do you like most about Maui?
COACH WILLIAMS: The weather. The sunglasses. The food. The people. I mean, I've been to Maui three times with just my family and not even bringing teams over here. I love the place.
I'm already politicking, when Dave Odom retires, if I'm retired, I want his job.
BILL WALTON: I used to think that I had the greatest job in the world until I came across Dave Odom.
Hall of Famer, Roy Williams, from North Carolina.
Next up, Brad Underwood, Oklahoma State. Entering his first season for the Cowboys there, after coaching the last three years at Stephen F. Austin where he led his teams to a 53-1 conference record.
Brad Underwood's Lumberjacks, 89 victories. He tied Brad Stevens for the most wins by a head coach in his first three years at an NCAA program. Now Brad Underwood leads the Oklahoma State Cowboys into its second all-time appearance at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Tournament. Coach, what kind of team are you looking at for this first year with the Cowboys in Stillwater, Oklahoma?
COACH UNDERWOOD: First of all, we're excited to be here as part of such a prestigious event. And everything starts with us in the back court. We're led by fifth-year senior Phil Forte. Phil is going to go down as one of the great Oklahoma State guards.
His running mate, Jawun Evans. Jawun and Phil played three games last year. They're both coming off injury. Then we've got a group of returners that we're excited about including Leyton Hammond, a senior, a double digit scorer, returning. And then we've got a group of freshmen... we are a young team. We've got six freshmen. Four of them are playing a great deal of minutes for us.
So we're a team that's still trying to figure each other out and adjusting to a new system, a new style, a new culture. But they're both feet in. They've committed to hard work. And I've been very pleased at this point.
BILL WALTON: Coach, what have been some of the bigger challenges as you've moved from Stephen F. Austin over to Oklahoma State?
COACH UNDERWOOD: Dealing with all the media. Probably the biggest adjustment is that perspective. But it's been a smooth transition.
The Oklahoma State family, we have tremendous basketball tradition there, dating back to Mr. Iba and Eddie Sutton, obviously, with two Final Four appearances. It's a special place. [I am] getting to know the people, regenerating, the excitement.
We're going to get that going again, and being part of this has made it very, very special this season.
BILL WALTON: How many times will you beat Kansas this year?
COACH UNDERWOOD: Considering that they've won 12 [Big 12 Championships] in a row, we're going to start with the first one. And then we've got them the last game of the year at our place. But they're the team to beat right now in the Big 12.
BILL WALTON: Thanks, Coach. One day you'll be. Appreciate your coming out today. Maui Jim, basketball in Paradise.
Moving to my left, Dana Altman of the Conference of Champions, the Pac-12, the Oregon Ducks here. Dana won more than 560 games in 27 seasons as head coach. He enters his seventh season with the Oregon Ducks, having won at least 20 games in each of his first six years. He's led teams to 31 wins, a Pac-12 championship, and a number 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament just a year ago and he returns four terrific starters and eight letter winners from last year's team.
Dana helped Oregon to each of the last four NCAA Tournaments. Coach, you're here in Maui. What do you like about your team this year?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, we do have a number of players returning, and that's a big positive. Chris Boucher is a senior who had an excellent junior year and is back for us.
Dillon Brooks, our leader, has been out with an injury. We're hoping to get him on the floor a little bit in the tournament.
He's progressed well over the last month. Our guards, Tyler Dorsey and Casey Benson, have both been productive for us. We do have some new players that we're excited about. So we're trying to blend the old with the new. It should be an exciting year for us, if we continue to play well.
BILL WALTON: What are your concerns playing against Georgetown and John Thompson, III?
COACH ALTMAN: Their athleticism is very good. Their depth is very good. They're pressing, being very aggressive on the defensive end. So we'll have a tough time matching up with their athleticism.
BILL WALTON: Thank you, Coach.
We move quickly to Rick Barnes, Tennessee. Now, Coach Barnes enters his second season with the Vols and his 30th as an NCAA head coach overall.
He's won more than 600 games in his career and has led his teams to 20 NCAA Tournament berths in the last 23 seasons, becoming the first coach to bring three different programs to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational: Providence way back in the 20th century, 1991; Texas in '04, '08 and '12, and now Tennessee here. Excellent day yesterday, Coach. What's exciting about your team this year?
COACH BARNES: Well, it's probably the unknown. [We have] one of the youngest teams we've ever coached. We've got nine new players in the program... Seven freshmen, one redshirt freshman. So the unknown is how we're going to respond to the schedule and what we have to do this year.
We like this group. They've worked hard for us. They've really helped us set the culture that we want to build on at the University of Tennessee. So I think this is going to be a great event for us.
BILL WALTON: Give us a couple of names to keep an eye on of your new, young, exciting players.
COACH BARNES: We only have three upperclassmen coming back. Robert Hubbs is a guy that we need to have a great year for us. And Detrick Mostella has had his games where he's done some good things for us. And we brought in a fifth-year senior transfer in terms of Lew Evans. We we need him to give us experience early to help our young guys grow.
For our young class, we've had our point guard, Jordan Bone and Jordan Bowden, those guys have had two pretty good games up here to start. But this competition is going to be good for them.
BILL WALTON: Can you talk about the transition from the Big 12 to the SEC, please, Texas to Tennessee?
COACH BARNES: It's a big difference. I think basketball has changed so much now where you don't play the round robin tournament. Big 12 and the round robin is really highly intense. It's a special conference because you do play a round robin. In the Southeastern Conference we don't do that, but that's the biggest difference.
BILL WALTON: Thanks, Coach. Moving now to Kevin Ollie, the University of Connecticut, now in his fifth season as the head coach at UConn, where he went to college after going to Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, coached by the Hall of Famer Willie West.
Now, Kevin is just in his second year with the program. He led the Huskies to the 2014 NCAA championship, beating Kentucky in that final game. UConn has won more than 20 games in each of Kevin Ollie's first four seasons and the Huskies have won the Maui tournament title in each of their last two appearances: '05 and 2010. Coach Ollie.
COACH OLLIE: Thanks, Bill.
BILL WALTON: Will you predict a victory in this year's tournament, Maui Jim?
COACH OLLIE: No, we're not going to predict that. We're going to predict that we're going to play hard. We believe in each other.
We're a very young group, like a lot of coaches said on the podium. We have six newcomers coming in. And this place, Maui, has got a special place in my heart.
My first year as an assistant under Coach Calhoun, I was able to come [to Maui] and watch the great Kemba Walker go on one of the most magical runs I've seen here, and hopefully we can display some of that magic coming back to Maui.
BILL WALTON: What does it mean for you, Coach, to be able to come back here where you've been so many different times and now bringing a brand new team that's really in transition and just getting started again after the championship a couple years ago?
COACH OLLIE: It's great. Like I said, I've got six newcomers. Just to get everybody together... We use this trip as a bonding trip, and to get away from the rigors of what [the players] have to do on a day-to-day basis as a student-athlete.
And we're going to push the reset button and come out here, play hard, and try to get some great wins. We've got a great opportunity to play a great Oklahoma State team and then just go forward it after that.
BILL WALTON: Now that we can see clearly with our Maui Jim sunglasses, who should we keep our eyes on for the Huskies?
COACH OLLIE: Our team is young. We have a couple players that I think you need to keep your eye on. First of all is Jalen Adams. And then Amida Brimah, my senior. And also Rodney Purvis, our fifth-year senior coming back.
BILL WALTON: I saw a nice, young player yesterday, Larry Tarrier. What do you have to say about him?
COACH OLLIE: Larry is a very versatile basketball player, and was a transfer from VCU. He hadn't played a lot of basketball for 16 months. So it still takes some adjustment. But he's coming in, playing very, very hard for them. I'm very excited for his season coming forward.
BILL WALTON: Thanks Coach.
Our final coach today, Greg Gard, from the University of Wisconsin in the Big Ten. He's in his second season as the Badgers head coach and he helped them to their fifth Sweet 16 appearance in the last six seasons, the only NCAA program to claim such a feat.
This is a loaded squad. They return all five starters and top nine scorers from last year's team. And they are a Final Four contender. Greg was an assistant coach for the program on the Wisconsin staff the last time the Badgers were here in Maui when he was here with Bo Ryan. That was in '09.
Coach Gard, can you bring us up to speed as to what's going on in Badger country?
COACH GARD: Thanks, Bill. As you mentioned, we do have everybody back off last year's team that played. But at the same time it's been a group that's still trying to find their way a little bit. I think we are trying to develop chemistry.
Because we have so much depth, we're trying to figure out minutes and roles and positions in terms of time.
So we're still growing, still trying to get better. But I think this experience so far, what we've had, we played at Creighton a week ago, and I think that really helped us grow up a little bit, a little bit faster, and this will as well. So we're excited to be here.
BILL WALTON: How has the experience been for you moving up from the long-time assistant to Bo Ryan, to now being in the head chair?
COACH GARD: A lot like what Brad said. The basketball aspect of it stays very similar. It's all the off-court responsibilities of speaking engagements, charity events, golf outings, all those type of things.
But your decision-making role, in terms of the basketball, obviously elevates. But in terms of your actual hands-on in terms of basketball operations and those type of things, it remains very similar.
BILL WALTON: Could you speak to the contributions of two key players, Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig?
COACH GARD: Obviously they've gotten better as players over the last four years. But from mid-season last year, when we were in transition with Coach Ryan retiring, through the end of the year and then into this year, their leadership roles have grown and they've matured in that area.
We lost a lot off of that 2015 Final Four team with Kaminski and Dekker and those guys. That was probably the biggest adjustment for Koenig and Hayes was how they could grow as leaders and the impact they could have in the locker room. And that's probably what I'm most proud of is their growth and development in that area.
BILL WALTON: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports