Beavers enjoying Maui trip
No. 24 Oregon State hosts inaugural Maui Jim Maui Classic starting today
WAILUKU — The Maui Jim Maui Classic is all part of the plan for the 24th-ranked Oregon State University women’s basketball team.
The Beavers, an NCAA Tournament Final Four team last season, are playing host to the inaugural four-team event today and Saturday at War Memorial Gym.
“I love being over here, but, of course, who doesn’t?” OSU coach Scott Rueck said at the end of practice on Wednesday. “One of the advantages of being a West Coast team is it’s easy to get to the Islands. I’ve brought several teams over throughout my career as part of different tournaments and nothing was on this island for women.”
When Rueck took over the OSU program in the summer of 2010, the Beavers were coming off a 2-16 record in the Pac-12 Conference and had just two scholarship players remaining at the school.
Last year, Oregon State won its second straight Pac-12 title before finishing 32-4 with a loss to Connecticut in the national semifinals.
BasketballMaui has helped with the organization of the Maui Classic, which also includes Idaho (2-3), Brigham Young (3-2) and Nevada-Las Vegas (5-0). Today’s games are BYU vs. UNLV at 4:30 p.m., followed by OSU against Idaho. On Saturday, Idaho plays UNLV at 4:30 p.m., followed by OSU against BYU.
“It’s just a dream, what’s better than basketball and Maui?” Rueck said.
Senior guard Sydney Wiese, an all-Pac-12 selection last season, is one of two starters back for the Beavers, who are 3-1 on the season after a 74-73 loss to Marquette in Corvallis, Ore., last week.
“It’s beautiful here, we couldn’t be more blessed to not only be here with each other, but to play basketball — it’s amazing where basketball can take you,” said Wiese, who is averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and a team-leading 5.0 assists this season. “The island has treated us so well, so hospitable, so welcoming, it makes it hard to leave. I know on Sunday we’re not going to want to go, so we’re definitely taking it all in as much as we possibly can.”
All four teams visited various Maui elementary schools on Thursday to share their experiences with local youths.
Wiese said she has watched the men’s Maui Invitational event that wrapped up its three-day run last week at the Lahaina Civic Center.
“Ever since I was a kid I know that there’s always been Thanksgiving tournaments in Hawaii, specifically Maui where some of the best teams come and perform and compete,” she said. “I think it’s amazing how they get the island involved. They want people in the crowd to support these teams and we want to put on a show for these people. So to be able to have the opportunity to perform for these people and to give back as much as we can — they’re giving us so much for letting us come here and be with them – so we’re looking forward to being out here and playing ball and having fun with the island.”
Wiese said playing in War Memorial Gym, where the Maui Invitational began in 1984, is just fine with the Beavers. She admitted the LCC has a little intrigue that goes with it, however.
“Any gym is home, honestly,” she said. “Obviously the Maui gym where the big tournament is held is special, a lot of memories there, but to be able to play here in the War Memorial Gymnasium is awesome. It has a homey feel. It’s like a high school gym and it’s small and I feel like it’s going to be super loud when games are in here, so we’re looking forward to that.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.
Maui Jim Maui Classic
At War Memorial Gym
BYU (3-2) vs. UNLV (5-0), 4:30 p.m.
Oregon St. (3-1) vs. Idaho (2-3), 6:30 p.m.
Idaho (2-3) vs. UNLV (5-0), 4:30 p.m.
Oregon St. (3-1) vs. BYU (3-2), 6:30 p.m.