Swords get Mullin’s props
LAHAINA >> Chris Mullin likes Chaminade’s style.
The St. John’s first-year coach was part of the “Run TMC”-era Golden State Warriors, so he more than most can appreciate the Silverswords’ run-and-gun ethos. His Red Storm were game for such a contest, as the storied team from the Big East outlasted the Division II Silverswords 100-93 in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational seventh-place game on Wednesday.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent, and they combined for 23 3-pointers. Chaminade (0-5) clawed back from a 17-point halftime deficit to get within seven points with time to spare, but the Johnnies (4-2) matched the Swords bucket for bucket late and avoided becoming the small school’s eighth-all time Maui victim.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Chaminade. They’re a very skilled team,” Mullin said. “They played beautifully together. So it’s a really nice style that they play. They’re always in the game because they can shoot the ball so well. I was very impressed, not only the way they played, but their demeanor.”
After Steve Lavin was let go at the storied New York school in the offseason, Storm alumnus Mullin was hired at St. John’s, which plays some of its home games at Madison Square Garden. Mullin, a renowned sharpshooter, is a member of the 1992 Dream Team and a Hall of Famer. He even tabbed his fellow TMC running mate Mitch Richmond as an assistant coach.
Chaminade wing James Harper, one of five Swords players in double-figure scoring, was told of Mullin’s comments just after the Red Storm postgame press conference.
“That means a lot. I think we have a unique team where we have a lot of scorers and a lot of offense on our team,” Harper said. “When it’s your opportunity to step up and hit an open shot, you have to step up with confidence and make it, because all the other guys around you can do the exact same thing. So we really have a unique team in that sense. It means a lot from a big-time coach and player like that to say that about our team.”
Junior wing Kiran Shastri came off the bench to lead Chaminade with 19 points. He went 5-for-10 on 3s to become the Silverswords’ career 3-point leader (177), passing George Gilmore.
Chaminade, which soon heads into PacWest Conference play, gave up 100-plus points two times in the tournament. No. 5 Kansas rung up 123 on Monday.
“I know we’re capable of making runs, but are we capable of keeping the other team from scoring 100 points on us?” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “What did they have at halftime? 59? That’s what my question marks are. I know we’ll always be good offensively, but my biggest question is how good are we going to be defensively?”
St. John’s was down to only six true rotation players due to injuries and ineligibilities, but all six scored in double figures, led by point guard Federico Mussini’s 24.
The Brooklyn native Mullin sported shorts all three days on the Lahaina Civic Center sidelines. At times Wednesday, it looked like he wanted to check himself in.
Mullen, who embraced the laid-back Maui atmosphere all tournament, was asked about his shorts in the postgame.
“I might break them out at the Garden, you never know,” he said.
Hu’s your daddy
Chaminade senior Kevin Hu played in front of his father from Taiwan for the first time this week since coming to America for college. He scored 17 on 7-for-11 shooting Wednesday.
“He never actually came here before, and I just really wanted to show him and do my best for him because he’s one of my biggest supporters,” said Hu, who is closing in on 1,000 career points. So I really appreciate it.”
Crean wowied by Maui
Despite his 13th-ranked team losing two of three games on Maui, Indiana coach Tom Crean had high praise for the tournament. The Hoosiers had among the strongest fan representation at the 2,400-seat Lahaina Civic.
“It’s been awesome. It’s my fourth trip here as a coach (with Marquette and Indiana),” Crean said after losing to UNLV 72-69 in the fifth-place game. “Everything has been first class from the time you arrive. Your atmosphere out there for the games, it’s always phenomenal. It keeps getting better and better all the time. The atmosphere here is unreal. I wish we could bottle it up. … Indiana really appreciates being here.”
With Wake Forest’s 80-77 victory over UCLA in Wednesday’s third-place game, the Demon Deacons won two games in a November or December tournament for the first time since 2008.
Brian McInnis, Star-Advertiser
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