Voice of the event
Public-address announcer Gene Honda has worked some big events - he wears a championship ring from the Chicago Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup title, and has handled 10 NCAA men's Final Fours.
A freelance announcer out of Chicago in his fourth year at the Maui Invitational, Honda didn't hesitate when asked if this week's event and the Final Four are comparable.
"Absolutely," he said outside the Lahaina Civic Center between games Wednesday. "Everyone thinks that tournaments like this are just for fun. The teams don't think so. They take them awfully seriously, so we have to, too."
Honda and his baritone voice landed the job through the Chicago-based public-relations agency KemperLesnik, which handles the tournament.
"My first year (as a P.A. announcer) was with the White Sox in '85, so it has been a while," the 58-year-old Honda said. "I am a broadcaster by trade, which I do still do, but when you are first starting out you are looking for something to get your name out there and the Sox were looking for a P.A. announcer, so I applied.
"I figured whether I get the job or not, you get your name out, right? And look what happened."
The Lahainaluna High School varsity and junior varsity basketball teams were among the personnel sweeping moisture off the court during this week's games.
Lunas sophomore guard Josh Chapital said watching the college game up close has made his week.
"I'm having so much fun," he said.
The crews number six per game - three youngsters from Chicago were working with the Lunas.
Butler came one win shy of becoming the third program to have a Maui title and unbeaten all-time record in the tournament. Duke (15-0), last year's champion, and Syracuse (6-0), part of next year's field, hold that distinction. North Carolina has scored at least 100 points in a game a tournament-best four times. Chaminade has hit the century mark three times, but lost two of those games.
"We're extremely thankful. I know everybody says thank you, but we really mean it. It's been an unbelievable experience for our kids. It's something they'll always remember. It's something for me as a coach and staff we will always remember."
- Marquette coach Buzz Williams, on the team's trip to Maui