The Georgetown men’s basketball team is one step closer to beginning its 2016-17 season, with the brackets for the 33rd Maui Jim Maui Invitational announced Tuesday morning. The Hoyas are slated to face the Oregon Ducks, with the winner moving on to face the winner of the game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Wisconsin Badgers.
The Maui Invitational is one of the premier early-season tournaments in Division I college basketball and boasts one of the most competitive field of teams of any early-season college basketball tournament. Last year, the tournament included the Indiana Hoosiers, Kansas Jayhawks and UCLA Bruins in its eight-team field.
The last time Georgetown took part in the Maui Invitational was in 2011, when the Hoyas took fifth place in the tournament with a 91-88 overtime win over Memphis.
In this year’s field, Georgetown and Oregon are joined by Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Connecticut and Chaminade. Of that eight-team field, Oregon, UNC, Wisconsin and UConn were in this year’s NCAA Tournament, with the Tar Heels making it all the way to the national championship game against the eventual champion, the Villanova Wildcats.
The Ducks, quickly becoming a Pac-12 powerhouse stomped their way to an Elite 8 appearance in last season’s NCAA tournament before falling to the Oklahoma Sooners 80-68. Led by six-foot-seven junior forward Dillon Brooks, the Ducks are hoping to go dancing again next March but will need to fill the voids left by graduated forwards Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey will be called upon to help Brooks carry the scoring burden, but the Ducks will need to sort out their front court before they can be expected to get back to the Elite 8 this season.
Brooks is the star of the team, averaging 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He was named to the all-Pac-12 first team, along with Cook. Brooks declared for the NBA Draft after the tournament but did not hire an agent and eventually decided to return for his junior season.
This summer, Brooks has been held out of summer workouts with a foot injury. The Ducks are holding him out in hopes of preventing a stress fracture injury. In a Tuesday conference call, Oregon head coach Dana Altman did not specify the nature of Brooks’ injury.
“It’s too early to tell. I have not heard from the doctors one way or another,” Altman said. “We are trying to give him and the doctors time to figure out which way to go.”
Georgetown head coach John Thompson III is eager to see his team match up against the Ducks so early in the season.
“We’re looking on going over there and getting a gauge on where we have to go as we march towards the Big East,” Thompson said. “Going into it, we know that we have a terrific team in Oregon in the opening round.”
For two teams on opposite coasts, the Hoyas and Ducks are becoming more familiar with each other, having played in 2013 in Pyeongtaek, South Korea at Camp Humphreys, a U.S. Army base. Oregon, ranked No. 19 at the time, defeated Georgetown 82-75. Senior forward Reggie Cameron is the only player left on Georgetown’s roster who played in that game.
“The South Korea [game], that was such a unique experience, traveling over there and playing on the military base. So much of that game was about giving back to our servicemen as it was getting our team ready to go,” Thompson said.
The Maui Invitational will be another challenging test early in the season for a Hoyas team that lost three of its first four games last season: its season opener to Radford and to Maryland and Duke, who were ranked No. 3 and No. 5, respectively.
This season, Thompson looks to balance the schedule while allowing room for experimentation with new lineups and a revamped offense.
“I think that’s the challenge of every preseason, where you want to put yourself and your team in a position where you are tested to find out your true colors and find out how you can grow,” Thompson said. “But you don’t want every game to be a war, you don’t want every game to be so brutal that you can’t work on different situations and different lineups.”
The Hoyas will face off against the Ducks on Monday, November 2. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. EST, and the game will be televised on ESPN2.