The No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels continue to aspire toward the heights reached by the 2005 team. That outfit won the 2004 Maui Invitational en route to capturing the national championship the following spring, and this year’s Heels aim to punctuate their Thanksgiving week in similar fashion at the 2008 Maui event.
As the top seed of the eight-team, three-day tournament, UNC feasted on host team Chaminade 115-70 on Monday night. The Silverswords a Division II program not to be confused with the numerous elderly men who attend the Lahaina tournament each year are the annual patsy of their own event, but given the amount of money they rake in for that privilege, no pity is warranted.
Well, maybe a little. After a couple minutes of ragged play, UNC pieced together its most impressive stretch of the season offensively. Even without Tyler Hansbrough, who sat out with an ankle injury, the Heels used their superior size and athleticism to ring up points in easy fashion.
The Silverswords spent a lot of time admiring the back of Ty Lawson’s jersey, as the junior point guard blew by his opponents in transition to score 19 points on 7-9 shooting, while also handing out six assists against no turnovers. As a tandem, Lawson and freshman backup Larry Drew II contributed 13 assists and just one giveaway.
That efficiency extended into the frontcourt, where junior forward Danny Green scored a career-high 26 points to accompany seven rebounds and three assists. After a few quiet games to begin the year, Green finally showed the offensive spark the team had begun to rely upon late last season.
UNC’s semifinal test figures to be significantly more difficult. The Tar Heels battle Oregon on Tuesday night, a club that pummeled Alabama 92-69 in the opening round. If they win, the Heels will play for the title on Wednesday night against either Texas or Notre Dame.
Here’s a link to the box score.