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Notre Dame Basketball: Chaminade Game Preview

The Fighting Irish open the Maui Invitational against the host school

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at DePaul Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

By the time you woke up for work on Friday morning, satisfied with a Notre Dame Fighting Irish dismantling of Chicago State the night before, Mike Brey and company were already on a flight out of South Bend. Is there a more fitting destination for this red-hot team than the volcanic islands of Hawaii? The Irish are shooting 54 percent from the field through their first three games, which ranks 18th in the nation. On Monday night, November 20, Notre Dame will try to keep filling up the net when it faces the Silverswords of Chaminade University in the first round of the Maui Invitational.

Quick Facts:

  • Chaminade, the host school of the Maui Invitational, hasn’t won a game in the tournament since 2012 when it beat Texas.
  • Notre Dame last made the trip to the Invitational in 2008, when it beat Indiana and Texas, but lost to North Carolina in the championship game.
  • Of the 33 teams that have won the Invitational, only two failed to make the NCAA tournament during that season.

Where: Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, Hawaii

When: Monday, November 20, 9:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: ESPNU and WatchESPN

Chaminade University Silverswords (2-0)

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational Day Two- Connecticut vs Chaminade Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Chaminade competes in the Division II Pacific West Conference, and it’s usually a middle-of-the-pack team. Last season the Silverswords finished fourth with a 13-7 record in conference play and lost in the semi-finals of the PacWest tournament.

This season could prove to be more challenging for Chaminade after the departure of four starting players from a year ago. Senior guard Austin Pope is the team’s lone returning starter and leads the team in minutes per game while averaging 9.5 points and four assists. The team’s leading scorer is senior guard Justin Bridges, averaging 12 points per game while coming off the bench.

The Silverswords also return three more seniors in guard Dantley Walker, 7-foot-1 center Nate Pollard, and forward Matt Southard, as well as junior forward Tyler Cartaino and redshirt sophomore guard Masa Swain. Adding to their level of experience are two Division I transfers in guard Grant Dressler from Sacramento State and forward Braden Koelliker from Colorado State.

Through two games, Chaminade has been very balanced on offense but only scored 71 points in both contests. With seven players on the roster measuring at 6-foot-7 or taller, Chaminade has somehow managed to post a negative rebound margin too. Those two stats should tell you exactly how this game will go.

Silversword to Watch:

NCAA Basketball: Maui Invitational-UNLV vs Chaminade Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Dantley Walker, G, Senior

First of all, I kind of liked the name “Silverswords” until I just referred to someone as a Silversword. Now it just doesn’t make any sense. Back to the topic, I’m going with the 5-foot-10 Walker as Chaminade’s key player in this matchup. He has led the team in three point attempts by a mile in his first two games, shooting 7-17. As a matter of fact, those are the only field goals he’s attempted, period. Walker knows his role, and if the Silverswords are going to have any chance to keep up with the Irish, he’s going to have to do what shooters do.

Irish X-Factor:

TJ Gibbs, G, Sophomore

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at DePaul Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports

I just want to take this opportunity to praise the way Gibbs has been playing. I know he hasn’t faced a really tough opponent yet, but take a look at these numbers: 17.7 points per game, 60 percent field goal percentage, 50 percent three-point percentage, and only two turnovers. Those don’t look like sophomore numbers from someone who scored less than five points in 15 minutes per game a year ago. This team needed another scorer to emerge, and he has stepped up in a huge way. I’ll be rooting for him to keep it rolling tonight against Chaminade.

Prediction:

Notre Dame 88 - Chaminade 60

Although this game shouldn’t be close, you never know how kids are going to play in an environment like this. Chaminade’s local fans may help keep them in the game for part of the first half, but eventually the Irish will start to dominate. Tougher games are ahead in this tournament, but this team is absolutely capable of winning it all. For now, they should keep having fun like they have been all weekend.