You're damn right we're the 2012 Maui Invitational Champions. HAWAII IS OURS, FRIENDS.
I don't want to get too excited. I really don't. Every time I start to I remind myself how the Illini started out last season with a 10-0 record only to win 7 of their final 22 games.
But I can't help it. I'm getting excited.
We have won the Maui Invitational, which generally means two things. The first is that when you're the Maui champ and you're undefeated, you usually end up ranked the following Monday. Which is something that I wasn't really expecting to happen for this team all season, let alone while we were still in November.
More importantly, there's this:
Since the 1st Maui Invitational in 1984, only one team (Vanderbilt 1986) won the tourney & didn't reach the NCAAs that season.— Scott Powers (@ESPNChiPowers) November 22, 2012
Yep, in the tournament's history, only one champion has failed to make the tournament. Let's try not to be the second.
So while I don't want to get too excited, I can't help but be just that. I know we're going to lose at some point. I know there's going to be a night when we can't hit threes to save our life and we're going to get killed because of it. I know we're not going to be able to handle Cody Zeller in the paint.
I know all this. I do. I just don't care.
I'm having way too much fun right now.
-- Brandon Paul was named the tournament's MVP, and he deserved it. He was wonderful during these three games. While he didn't score a lot against Chaminade, he was a force on defense the entire night. So far Brandon's senior season is everything we could have hoped for, and if it continues like this we are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
-- As fun as the offense has been to watch, this team is playing some defense too. Which is very nice to see because you aren't going to win in the Big Ten if you're not playing defense.
-- There's been a lot of debate over who our most improved player is. It could be Tyler Griffey, Tracy Abrams or D.J. Richardson. I lean Tracy Abrams at the moment, but it doesn't really matter. All that matters is we have three players to choose from who are all playing very well.
-- Seriously, Tyler Griffey, keep on keepin on. I hope this confidence you feel right now lasts all season long, because it's a beautiful thing.
-- Let's celebrate.