Chaminade hopes to be best of west
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Brandon Masuoka
After celebrating its first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance this week, the Chaminade men's basketball team is back to business.
"We're happy to be here, but we're trying to win this, too," said Chaminade first-year head coach Matt Mahar, whose team plays the University of Alaska at Anchorage (19-11) at 10:30 a.m. today in the NCAA West Regional first round in Seattle.
The game will be broadcast live on the Internet at www.GoSeawolves.com. There will be no television broadcast.
The Silverswords (18-8) won the Pacific West Conference title, and earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Since then, congratulatory messages from the school's administration and student body have been constant, Mahar said.
"The dean of students put on a little send-off party for us," said Mahar, who recorded a program-best 18 victories this season. "This year, our crowd support was a lot better than in years past."
The Silverswords, the tournament's No. 3 seed, are led by guard Chris Reaves, who averages 20.3 points per game. The 6-foot-3 senior has scored 32, 39 and 37 points in Chaminade's final three regular-season victories.
"I usually start out getting my teammates involved, and that usually frees me up later on," Reeves said. "All four other players on the court can score."
"He's a hard kid to stop," Mahar said of Reaves. "He's extremely athletic, and he can also shoot it."
Chaminade is a strong perimeter shooting team, averaging 8.9 3-pointers a game. Senior guard Dylan McCune leads the team with 70 3-pointers in 26 games.
"If we shoot well, we'll be in the game," Mahar said.
Chaminade is projected to start guards Reaves (20.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 4.5 assists per game), Zack Whiting (14.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 8.2 apg) and McCune (9.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg), and forwards Chris Powell (7 ppg, 5 rpg) and Stewart Kussler (7.6 ppg, 4 rpg).
"Whoever wins the boards, wins the game," Reaves said. "That will be the outcome of the game."
Alaska Anchorage, the tournament's No. 6 seed, finished tied for fourth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The host Seawolves upset NCAA Division I and Missouri Valley Conference champion Southern Illinois, 72-64, on Nov. 25.
"They're a very, very good team," Mahar said. "They're battle tested. I think it's going to be an even matchup on paper. I think it's going to be a battle."
Alaska Anchorage is projected to start guards Luke Cooper (4.6 ppg, 2 rpg, 6.4 apg) and Kemmy Burgess (21.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apg), and forwards Adam Fitt-Chappell (7.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg), James Hartman (9.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2 apg) and Brian Hills (9.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg).
ALL-WEST REGION TEAM
Brigham Young-Hawai'i's Austin Smylie was named to the Daktronics all-West Region first team, and Chaminade's Zack Whiting and Chris Reaves earned second-team honors yesterday.
Smylie led the Seasiders (14-11 overall, 6-6 in the PacWest) with 22.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Whiting averaged a team-best 8.2 assists per game, and Reaves led the team in scoring in 15 of the team's 26 games.
The all-West Region teams are selected by the sports information directors at the region's schools.
Reach Brandon Masuoka at firstname.lastname@example.org.