Syracuse basketball’s dominance of the Maui Invitational

I’ve been in Maui this week and decided to stop by the Lahaina Civic Center, home of college basketball’s Maui Invitational every November.

After the disappointing loss to Wake Forest last night, I thought it would be nice to focus on Syracuse’s dominance of the Maui Invitational over the years.

The Maui Invitational started in 1984 and was created as a result of Chaminade University of Honolulu’s huge upset over Ralph Sampson and #1 Virginia in Honolulu in 1982. Virginia coach, Terry Holland, posed the idea of an annual college basketball tournament in Hawaii to the Chaminade athletic director after the game and the rest is history.

The Orange have participated in the Maui Invitational three times (1990, 1998 and 2003) and won each time. Only Duke (5) and North Carolina (4) have won more Maui Invitational championships.

In 1990, Syracuse defeated Indiana in the championship game and junior Billy Owens was named tournament MVP. He finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds against Indiana. Current associate head coach, Adrian Autry was a freshman on the team. Former associate head coach and current head coach at Washington, Mike Hopkins, was a sophomore on the team.

SU1Scanned 09/20/11
 Adrian Autry and Mike Hopkins                      photo credit: Stephen Cannerelli /

The Orange kept the Maui momentum going in 1998 and defeated Indiana again in the 1998 championship game. Freshman Preston Shumpert and junior Jason Hart (pictured below) paced Syracuse with 19 and 17 points respectively. Hart won the tournament MVP.

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Most recently, Syracuse beat Minnesota, California and Baylor to win the 2013 Maui Invitational. Senior CJ Fair was crowned tournament MVP and sophomore Jerami Grant was named to the all-tournament team. Fair averaged 18 points and 6.3 rebounds and Grant averaged 16.6 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Jim Boeheim left Orange fans with some food for thought after the 2013 tournament, “The next time I come to Maui, I will have my golf clubs.”

With Hopkins leaving for the Washington head coaching job last year and Boeheim’s son Buddy committed to play for the Orange next season, it looks like Boeheim won’t be retiring any time soon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boeheim take his team back to Maui in 2019 or 2020. The 2018 field has already been announced and Syracuse isn’t in it.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Maui Invitational is it is played in such a small venue at the Lahaina Civic Center gym. The gym holds roughly 2,400 fans and it’s crazy to think the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Michigan State and others have played in the tournament. Here are some poor quality iPhone photos I took when I stopped by the gym this week:

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