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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Arizona to test young KU in Maui

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Kansas University's young men's basketball team will be asked to grow up in a hurry this November.

The Jayhawks on Wednesday learned they would play Pac-10 Conference power Arizona in a first-round EA Sports Maui Invitational game at 8 p.m. Nov. 21 at Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii.

The winner will meet either possible preseason No. 1 Connecticut or Arkansas at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 22. The first-round losers meet at 3 p.m. Nov. 22.

The other side of the bracket has Chaminade matched against Michigan State and Gonzaga versus Maryland.

"You knew going in, whomever you drew in the first round would be an extremely tough matchup, and certainly the path we have to take is as difficult as anyone," KU coach Bill Self said Wednesday from the recruiting trail.

The Jayhawks lost four starters from last year's 23-7 team.

EA Sports Maui Invitational

First round (all times CDT)

Nov. 21

Chaminade v. Michigan State, 1:30 p.m.; Gonzaga v. Maryland, 4 p.m.; Arizona v. Kansas, 8 p.m.; Arkansas v. Connecticut, 10:30 p.m.

Second round

Nov. 22

Chaminade-Michigan State loser v. Gonzaga-Maryland loser, 12:30 p.m.; Arizona-Kansas loser v. Arkansas-Connecticut loser, 3 p.m.; Chaminade-Michigan State winner v. Gonzaga-Maryland winner, 6 p.m.; Arizona-Kansas winner v. Arkansas-Connecticut winner, 8:30 p.m.

Third round

Nov. 23

Fifth-place game 1 p.m; third place game 3:30 p.m.; seventh place game 6 p.m.; championship game, 8:30 p.m.

x-All Maui games will be televised either on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. The KU-Arizona game will be on ESPN as will the game between the KU-Zona winner and the UConn-Arkansas winner, plus the championship game.

"We look forward to the challenge of playing what will likely be a preseason top-10 team in the first round," Self said.

The Maui field is being billed as the perhaps the toughest in the tourney's 22-year history, with all the teams except Chaminade and Gonzaga past NCAA champions. Chaminade is a Division Two school.

"There are a lot of different ways to do it," Self said of approaching the schedule with a team that loses 78.8 percent of its scoring and 70.7 percent of its rebounding.

"One is play your way into some confidence. We are not afforded that luxury having been scheduled in Maui. We knew we were going there for a long time, and we knew we'd have a young team. We'll be excited going there with a young team that will be motivated."

The Jayhawks will have a chance to play one game before the Maui trip. The Jayhawks will open against Idaho State on Friday, Nov. 18, then head the next day to Maui.

"It's a great trip," Self said. "I've been there before and know what it's like. I know Kansas fans will be happy to go to a place like that and watch us play. We are really excited about it."

Equally excited is Arizona, which return three starters - Hassan Adams, Ivan Radenovic and Mustafa Shakur - from last year's 30-7 team.

"It's a great early test for us for us to see where we are in late November," UA assistant coach Josh Pastner said Wednesday. "I don't think, whether you start with Kansas or someone else, that you are not going to face a good team in this tournament. This is why kids want to come and play at Arizona."

Veteran coach Lute Olson is hopeful the Wildcats can make up for the losses of Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire.

"I think this team will have a great shot at the Pac-10 title again," said Olson, whose team went 15-3 in the league and placed first a year ago. "It will be the kind of team because of the competition in practice that will only get better and better."

The Wildcats return 10 of 12 scholarship players and will play their season-opener versus KU.

"If you look at the Maui Invitational field, I don't think there has ever been a better tournament than that one," Olson said. "Regardless of what happens to us there, I think we will come out of that with a much better awareness of what we need to do in order to get better."

KU's nonconference schedule next season includes home exhibitions against Fort Hays State and Pittsburg State, plus regular-season home games versus Idaho State, Kentucky, Nevada, Western Illinois, Northern Colorado and Pepperdine, plus Cal at Kemper Arena. Road games will be contested against Saint Joseph's in New York and at Georgia Tech.

¢ Maui notables: Past Maui champs in the field include KU (1996), Arizona (2000) and Michigan State (1991) ... Five of the eight teams reached the 2005 NCAAs and were ranked in the top 15 of the final AP poll (KU, UA, UConn, Gonzaga, MSU).... Tickets will go on sale at 1 p.m. Aug. 16 at mauiinvitational.com. ... Chaminade has a 4-57 record in the previous 21 tournaments.

¢ Langford erupts: Ex-Jayhawk Keith Langford scored 19 points off 8-of-17 shooting in the Dallas Mavericks' 108-99 loss to Memphis in Long Beach, Calif., summer-league action. Langford had one assist and no turnovers in 34 minutes. Eric Chenowith hit one of five shots and had two points and a rebound in five minutes for the Mavs.

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