A new kind of aloha for UCLA basketball in 2011
UCLA is among 12 teams to score an invite for the expanded 2011 Maui Invitational, the Thanksgiving week tournament college basketball fans and players dream of experiencing.
Four of the participants might end up feeling like turkeys.
That's because they won't actually be going to Hawaii under a new format that calls for 11 of the 23 games to be played on the United States mainland.
Opening games in the tournament will be played between the seven Maui-bound teams -- Duke, Kansas, Georgetown, Michigan, Memphis and Tennessee in addition to the Bruins -- and four mainland teams to be determined (just a guess here, but we're probably talking mid-majors) on Nov. 11-17, 2011, at the Maui-bound teams' home arenas.
The teams not making the trip to Hawaii (sniff, sniff) will play each other Nov. 19-20 before the main event commences with the usual eight-team, three-day bracket from Nov. 21-23 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui. Chaminade, the tiny island school that once knocked off mighty Ralph Sampson and Virginia, will again serve as the host. The Silverswords haven't won a game in the tournament since upsetting Princeton in 2007.
UCLA, the 2006 Maui Invitational champion, will be making its fourth appearance in the tournament. And the Bruins should consider themselves lucky that they'll actually get to wear leis and participate in a luau.
-- Ben Bolch