The question of where Vanderbilt fell in the 09 Maui Invitational came up over on the SECFanatics forum, so I figured I’d take a stab and ranking the field.
Ranking The 2009 Maui Invitational:
1st place: Maryland 5th place: Arizona
2nd place: Vanderbilt 6th place: Cincinnati
3rd place: Wisconsin 7th place: Colorado
4th place: Gonzaga 8th place: Chaminade
Maryland and Vanderbilt return key players and add talent. Wisconsin, Gonzaga, and Arizona lose guys to graduation and/or the draft. Cincinnati has just never taken off under Mick Cronin. Chaminade belongs in the Big-12 just as much as Colorado does; or at least that is how it seems with the way Colorado has played over the past few seasons. Of course all of this really depends on the initial pairings.
Hastily Made Cleveland Trade: (if you haven’t seen the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video then you need to)
Changing gears a bit I’d like to say something about the Shaq trade in the NBA. I’ve seen lots of people talking about this and questioning if Shaq is a good move for the long haul. It’s obvious that he isn’t; but I don’t think the Cleveland brass is thinking about the long haul here. They know James could be leaving next year, so it is their best shot at winning a title. When you look at Cleveland from this past season the first thing you notice is that James was the only threat to score. You could have played a box defense on James, leaving every other player wide-open and the Cavs still couldn’t have beaten most teams in the league. It took James going every night and being the workhorse scorer.
By bringing in Shaq you are bringing in a guy who can still put up 15 or 16 points a night and be a second focusing point for the defense. That is 15 points a night that James doesn’t have to score for Cleveland to win. This also helps Cleveland’s case for keeping James. Sure, Shaq isn’t the long-term answer, but this shows that Cleveland is willing to do what it takes to help build something with James instead of on top of James.