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November 19, 2017
Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
DAVE ODOM: Good morning. My name is Dave Odom, and I am the chairman of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. We welcome everyone here to what really is the beginning of our big week with great basketball, lot of great universities are here, and we're just excited about the event. We always are. Amazing things will happen in the next three days, I can tell you that. Nobody can script that. We can script today, but we can't script the games, that's for sure.
It is time now and a big honor for me to introduce to you our moderator of the morning. I call him the hardest working and most well-traveled sportscaster in the business. I mean, he comes to us all the way from Toronto, Canada. I give you Dan Shulman.
DAN SHULMAN: Thank you, Coach. Very, very, especially being from Canada, very excited to be here in 80 degree weather or 27 celsius if there happen to be any other Canadians here today. Very excited to be back at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Somewhere out there, Jay Bilas, my broadcast partner is here. And he's excited to be here as well, and hoping to be back here for many years. Before we hear from the coaches, we just want to introduce someone new to the tournament family this year. Dr. Lynn Babington is here this year, the new President of Chaminade University, who took over on August 1st.
Coach Beilein, she received her undergrad degree from the University of Michigan. So there you go, her loyalties may be a little bit divided this week.
These eight programs have combined for over 200 NCAA tournament appearances, and every coach who is up here today has been to a Final Four as either a head coach or an assistant coach. We've got a team that's ranked in the top 10 right out of the chute this year. We've got a couple of All-Americans we're going to see in this tournament. Three programs have been to the Final Four in the last seven years, and as is always the case, we're going to see great basketball over the next three days.
We want you to hear briefly from each coach. So we'll start from my far right, Wyking Jones is in his first year as head coach at the University of California, was an assistant there for a couple of years. Coach Jones, if you could tell us a little bit about the Bears going in?
WYKING JONES: First of all, very excited to be part of such a prestigious tournament. Every year you watch the Maui Invitational and it's the premier tournament this time of year. So we're very excited to be here.
My team, I feel like we've gotten better each game that we've played. We know we're going to get tested this week, and at the end of the day hopefully we get better. That's the main thing for us.
DAN SHULMAN: And you're one of a number of coaches up here who likes to play fast. Tell us about the style of play you bring to your program?
WYKING JONES: We pick up 94 feet. We like to use our defense to help us with our offense. High-pressure basketball, and we like to push it in transition as well.
DAN SHULMAN: Big picture heading into the Pac-12 this year. What do you think about the league, and what are your expectations?
WYKING JONES: Got some really talented teams in the league. Arizona is one of the premier teams in the country, as well as USC and UCLA, I think they're all ranked in the top 25. So this tournament is a great test for us leading into conference play. So hopefully we can benefit from being challenged here this week.
DAN SHULMAN: Coach, thank you very much. Best of luck this week.
Coach Bovaird, well known to everybody here. The head coach of the Chaminade Silverswords and a mainstay in this tournament, and, again, from what we understand, the odds-on-favorite in the free throw contest that we're going to see in a little bit. We asked you the same question last year, but it bears repeating. What does this tournament mean to your program and what do you get out of this?
ERIC BOVAIRD: It means so much. From the recruiting aspect to everything for Chaminade University, it's something that we cherish and look forward to every year. It puts Chaminade on the map in the basketball world, and our guys are so anxious and ready to see how they match up against this great competition.
DAN SHULMAN: And Chaminade has won a number of games over the years. Was Texas the last win?
ERIC BOVAIRD: Texas was the last win.
DAN SHULMAN: 2012 if I'm not mistaken. So you have a tough challenge on day one with Coach Brey and the Irish. What kind of challenge does that present to you guys?
ERIC BOVAIRD: An incredible challenge. We've played Kansas, North Carolina the past couple years, and I've watched their three games that they've played recently. I put them in that category. They look like an incredible team, it's going to be a challenge for us. Looking forward to the opportunity.
DAN SHULMAN: Coach Wade of LSU, I guess when he decided to take the job at LSU, he wanted to make sure he went to a place that was coming out to Maui because he was at VCU so he was going to wind up in Maui one way or another. What are you expecting out of your team over the next three days?
WILL WADE: Yeah, I was bound and determined to get here one way or another, but we'll see. We're a major work in progress. We've made some progress in the preseason. Offensively, I think I know what we've got, but we're a major work in progress with our defense. We're a team that's coming together and hopefully this week will help us continue to gel and get better.
DAN SHULMAN: When you look at the possibility of playing three top-notch games in three days, what do your players get out of this tournament this early in the season?
WILL WADE: It will be good for us to see where we stand and give us about six weeks before we get into SEC play to see where we stand and what we need to correct and get better on, and where we need to move forward. So we're anxious about the opportunity, and looking forward to getting it kicked off tomorrow.
DAN SHULMAN: I think a lot of people are looking at the SEC as a league that's going to be very strong, very deep this year. I don't want to give you any more anxiety than you may already have.
WILL WADE: Thanks, anything else (laughing)?
DAN SHULMAN: Tell us what the SEC looks like?
WILL WADE: The SEC, we've got three or four teams in the top 25 right now, couple teams in the top 10. It's going to be a bear of a league. It will be our first time through it, but we're certainly looking forward to the opportunity, and looking forward to the challenge. I think this week will really prepare us as we get ready for SEC play.
DAN SHULMAN: Best of luck this week.
Coach Wojciechowski was here with Duke as a player and an assistant, I believe. And was the most valuable or most outstanding player here with the Maui Invitational in 1997. What do you remember about that?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: It was a great, great memory. That was my first time here out to Maui. Then, like now, there was an outstanding field. We were fortunate enough to beat defending National Champions Arizona in the championship game.
DAN SHULMAN: Is this your normal voice, or is this the time in the season for the hoarse voice?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: This is our first day of practice to last game of the year voice.
DAN SHULMAN: Tell us about your program. We know you guys love to shoot the three. You can put the ball in the basket. Tell us a little bit about the Golden Eagles?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: We have a young team. Nine of our players are freshman and sophomores. We have one senior in Andrew Rowsey who really is our team leader. We're a team that's capable of being a very good shooting team. But still very much trying to find our identity as a whole. Certainly this tournament, with the quality of competition, will be a springboard for us, hopefully for growth and improvement.
DAN SHULMAN: I think one of the great things that this sport offers that maybe not all sports do, you see different styles of play with everybody you play. Not giving away any secrets here from Coach Rhoades, you're going to see some pressure tomorrow. Tell us a little bit about facing a team that plays the way VCU does?
STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI: They play extremely hard and they put a great deal of pressure on you because of their activity and intensity. Obviously, anytime you play a team like VCU who presses and turns defense into offense, you really have to take care of the ball. But oftentimes, that's a lot easier said than done.
DAN SHULMAN: Coach Beilein, of the Michigan Wolverines, I was in town a couple weeks ago, and you were nice enough to let me come watch practice. And I know you've got some talented players coming back from last year. Tell us about the outlook for you guys this season?
JOHN BEILEIN: I think we're in a transition right now where we lost so much from last year, but we have some good young players. But now they're going to get these great opportunities to do it on the big stage, and there is no stage bigger, really, except maybe the NCAA tournament and this tip off tournament. So we'll see what they do when the lights come on, and if they can't get it done right, we will, eventually do it. But this is a great test further.
DAN SHULMAN: One of the things I saw at your practice, and I don't know why you did this, I don't know if the players did something right, but you dropped down and gave 20 push-ups. Your push-up game was pretty strong.
JOHN BEILEIN: We always make them do push-ups or run sprints if they do something that is not winning basketball. But if they do something that's really good, all right, then let the coach do some push-ups. That means they're -- I'm just rewarding them. They love to see the coaches in some pain.
DAN SHULMAN: Well, you did very well. I think you have one of the most interesting players around in Mo Wagner, a guy who flirted with the idea of going to the NBA. Tell us about him?
JOHN BEILEIN: Yeah, Mo is one of the finest young men I've ever coached ever, and that's in 40 years. He's just a great personality on our team. He wants to win. He loves basketball. Very young still, a 20-year-old junior. But he really has such a huge upside, and pleasure to see every single day whether it's on the court or offer the court.
DAN SHULMAN: It should be a great first round match-up as Michigan has LSU in the first round game.
Coach Brey of Notre Dame has kind of turned Tobacco Road a little upside down the last few years. Won an ACC tournament championship, into the Elite Eight two of the last three years. You've lost some good players, but you've got a lot of talent and experience coming back. Tell us about your team?
MIKE BREY: We do. We have some older guys, and I think when you start with Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson, two seniors that have won a lot together, it's a great place to start. We're working in some new faces like T.J. Gibbs and Rex Pflueger, but I'm happy with their progress so far.
Fully aware of the challenge we have with Chaminade. We know how great they've played and the job that Eric has done. I guess that's the Catholic Championship of the State of Hawaii right off the bat. But we're very aware it could be a road atmosphere for us in there tomorrow.
DAN SHULMAN: Is there anybody you've ever coached who reminds you of Bonzie Colson? He's such an unusual player.
MIKE BREY: He's such a unique guy. No, Dan. I don't know what position he is, he's 6'5", the wing span 7'2", he doesn't have a neck. He doesn't have calves, but he just gets it done. He's a beautiful basketball player to watch, and when the lights are brightest, he's played his best.
DAN SHULMAN: Can you talk a little bit about how this will prepare you for ACC play later?
MIKE BREY: There is no question our league, the ACC, now has become like that Big East we left not that long ago with amazing depth. But when you play in this event, everyone watches this event next week. Even coaches that aren't in the Maui Invitational, that's the one I'm always watching when I'm not in it. So it's a great stage, and hopefully we can get tougher and figure ourselves out a little more before we head into ACC play.
DAN SHULMAN: Best of luck this week. Coach Rhoades has taken over for the first year as head coach at VCU. He was an assistant there before. Including the Final Four run under Shaka Smart, went to Rice, has now come back as an assistant. Before we talk about this week, what does it mean to you to take over the program that you were at before as an assistant?
MIKE RHOADES: Great honor, dream come true. That area has been home for me and my family for a long time. So now to go back there as the head coach of VCU is a special thing.
DAN SHULMAN: The style of play, will we see a similar style to what we've been used to seeing in recent years?
MIKE RHOADES: Absolutely. We're going to try to play fast and aggressive, and it's a fun way to play. Everybody at VCU loves that, and we're going to continue to try to push that forward.
DAN SHULMAN: Tell us a little bit about your match-up with Marquette and what you're going to see this week?
MIKE RHOADES: We've got our hands full for sure. Steve has done a super job with that team. They have some great guards that can make plays and guys that can really shoot it. We've got to make sure we defend them at a higher level than we've been, but we're excited for the opportunity, for sure.
DAN SHULMAN: We wish you the best of luck. Thank you for the time.
Last but certainly not least, Coach Gregg Marshall from Wichita State, a consensus top 10 team. Heading into the season, a consensus All-American in Landry Shamet, they're missing one of their key players in Markis McDuffie, but they bring back every other player who was really in the rotation last year.
Coach Marshall, can you tell us a little about your club?
GREGG MARSHALL: Yeah, we have six seniors, so we have a lot of depth, talent, experience, they're mature players. They've been through the fire. We've been a little banged up, as you mentioned, Dan. But Landry Shamet is back, though probably not 100%, and it will be a while for Markis. But we expect the guys that are healthy to be ready to go. This is a great opportunity for us against a wonderful field.
DAN SHULMAN: You're moving to a new conference this year, too, the American Conference. How does that change things for you?
GREGG MARSHALL: It's very rare you get a better job, and you don't have to change the zip code. We're excited about joining the American Conference. There are a lot of wonderful teams, programs, players and coaches, Final Fours, National Championship programs, so we think that that's going to add to our opportunity for quality games and hopefully some quality wins come tournament time.
DAN SHULMAN: People are, because of everything you bring back, people are talking about your team in the same breath as the traditional powers, the blue bloods. From your players, how high are the expectations about what you guys may be able to accomplish this year?
GREGG MARSHALL: You know, we really don't talk about it. I just try to take a day at a time and improve some way individually or collectively in each practice. They obviously hear it in social media today. So they know there are some very lofty expectations. But we just have to take it one day at a time. Right now we're concerned about Cal.
DAN SHULMAN: Coach, thank you. Best of luck this week.
We want to thank all the coaches for coming out this morning and wish them the best of luck in what should be a great tournament. We will see. On behalf of Jay and everybody else who is lucky enough to be here for ESPN, we want to thank everybody for bringing us out here again to Maui, and we look forward to a few great days of basketball. Now back over to Coach Odom.
COACH ODOM: Thanks, Dan, and thanks coaches. That was a great job. Big hand for them. Dan mentioned his travel partner Jay Bilas.
Jay, just step out and stick your hand up here.
Between Jay and Dan, they are the face of Maui Jim Maui Invitational out here. Give Dan and Jay together a big hand.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports