Friday, November 17, 2006

UCLA Travels to Maui for 23rd Invitational Tourney

By Bruin Basketball Report

The No. 6 ranked UCLA Bruins (1-0) are on the island of Maui this weekend to begin practice for the 23rd Annual EA Sports Maui Invitational.  The eight-team college event will be played at the Lahaina Civic Center from November 20-22.

In addition to UCLA, the Maui Invitational boasts three other teams ranked in the top 25 basketball preseason polls: Memphis (No.13), Georgia Tech (No.21), and Kentucky (No.22).  The rest of the tournament field includes DePaul, Purdue, Oklahoma, and tournament host Chaminade University.

UCLA will open against Division II opponent Chaminade University on Monday.  If the Bruins win as expected, they would face the winner of the Kentucky and DePaul match-up on Tuesday.

Tournament chairman Dave Gavitt was asked about a possible second-round match-up between UCLA and Kentucky.

"ESPN would be most excited if it happens," Gavitt said. "No disrespect to Chaminade, but I think Kentucky will really have its hands full with DePaul, that's going to be a very, very competitive game."

UCLA has posted an all-time record of 3-3 in the Maui Invitational, including a third-place finish in its last appearance during the 2001-02 season when the team posted a 2-1 record.

"We are excited about being in the Maui Invitational," said Bruin head coach Ben Howland. "It is one of the premier tournaments in the country year in and year out. This year's field is a lot like last year's with a lot of great teams and outstanding coaches, which should make for an exciting tournament."

All twelve tournament games will be televised on ESPN.

[click here for official tournament bracket]

BBR Notes:  Arron Afflalo's MRI came back negative and will begin practice with the team tomorrow.  Josh Shipp, who left the court against BYU with a slight limp, is also fine and will practice and play this week.

As a result of his ten regular-season game suspension, freshman Nikola Dragovic will not make the trip to Maui with the team.  Although Dragovic is allowed to continue practicing with the team during his suspension, he is forbidden from traveling with the team on road trips.



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