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Maui teams focus on future, not rankings

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Associated Press
November 23, 2009
— The Maui Invitational has built itself into one of the most respected early season college basketball tournaments in the nation. This season, however, only one team enters the event rated in the Top 25—25th-ranked Maryland.

That fact didn’t seem to bother the coaches at the 26th annual tournament at the opening press conference on Sunday.


“No, that doesn’t matter because these are all good programs,” Maryland coach Gary Williams said. “I mean, I think we are ranked 25th. We snuck into the AP (rankings) this week, but this time of year those rankings are really based on what you did last year for the most part.”


Last season’s event featured top-ranked and eventual national champion North Carolina, sixth-ranked Texas and No. 8 Notre Dame.


The last Maui Invitational to have no ranked teams was the 2003 event won by Dayton.


Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said he wasn’t aware of the situation for this tournament.


“The only rankings I know are the ones that come out at the end of the year,” he said. “I don’t look at any of the other ones. You are trying to tell me we are not ranked? Or Arizona isn’t ranked? I didn’t know that. Seriously, I didn’t know that.”


Gonzaga coach Mark Few said the field is as good as ever. This is Few’s third trip to the Maui Invitational.


“What I think this field is, at the end of the year, people are going to look back and go, ‘Wow, that field was really,


really good,’ ” Few said.


First-year Arizona coach Sean Miller said the Maui tournament can only help teams like his Wildcats.


“We will improve a lot by being in Maui,” Miller said. “We start with Wisconsin, a storied program, a program that goes to the NCAA tournament year in, year out. The faces change. The results stay the same.”


Miller said the rankings don’t matter at this point.


“It really doesn’t,” he said. “If you look back at the history of rankings, there are so many great teams that are overrated in November and maybe sustain injuries or what have you. And I’m sure there are a number of different teams from this field that will be in this year’s NCAA tournament that will go on to have terrific seasons. Maryland, clearly, coming in you can see them having a special season.”



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