Aug. 17, 2009
The University of Alaska Anchorage announced Friday that it has completed its fields for the 2009 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout, scheduled for Nov. 24-28 at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena. The USD Toreros will take on Oklahoma in the first of three contests during Thanksgiving week.
The men's field for the 32nd annual tournament will be Alaska Anchorage, Houston, Nicholls State, Oklahoma, San Diego and Washington State. With six teams instead of the traditional eight, the men's Shootout will undergo a format change for the first time ever, instituting Olympic-style pool play for 2009.
Meanwhile, on the women's side, host and three-time defending champion Alaska Anchorage will be joined in the 4-team field by Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina and Western Carolina. It will be the first Shootout trip for each visiting program.
"We are thrilled with this year's lineup," said UAA athletic director Dr. Steve Cobb. "In a perfect world, we would still have eight men's teams, but with the realities of today's college basketball climate, scheduling has become as difficult as recruiting. That said, we should have some of the best basketball in the country being played right here in Anchorage, as usual, on Thanksgiving week."
Here is a brief look at the 2009 Shootout field for the men's bracket: Led by sixth-year head coach Rusty Osborne, host Alaska Anchorage is shooting for its 30th all-time Shootout victory in 2009. The Seawolves will feature versatile guards Kevin White and Brandon Walker among their five returnees, while adding another group of talented recruits.
A first-time Shootout visitor, Houston went 21-12 overall and finished fourth in Conference USA in 2008-09 to earn its second straight 20-win season. The Cougars also captured their fourth postseason bid in five years under veteran coach Tom Penders, who owns over 600 career victories.
Nicholls State is coming off a 20-11 campaign in which it tied for second place in the Southland Conference. The Colonels, of Thibodaux, La., are led by head coach J.P. Piper, and will field a squad that loses only two seniors from a year ago. NSU finished eighth at the Shootout in 1980.
Oklahoma - which placed third in the Shootout in 1983 and 2004 - posted a 30-6 record, reached as high as No. 2 in the country, and came within a win of the Final 4 last season. With the departure of consensus national player-of-the-year Blake Griffin and two other starters, coach Jeff Capel will count on one of the nation's most exciting players, 2008-09 Big 12 Newcomer-of-the-Year Willie Warren, a lightning-quick point guard.
San Diego finished 16-16 under second-year head coach Bill Grier. The Toreros received good news this summer, however, when they learned that leading scorer Brandon Johnson will receive a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA. With USD making its first appearance, the Shootout will be hosting its seventh school from the eight-team West Coast Conference.
Washington State, of the powerful Pacific-10 Conference, went 17-16 in 2008-09, and this campaign will mark the beginning of a new era as Ken Bone takes the coaching reins in Pullman. The Cougars visited Anchorage in 1981 for their only Shootout appearance.
2009 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout Schedule
Sullivan Arena - Anchorage, Alaska
November 24-28 - All times TBA
Men's Tournament - Nov. 25-28
Washington State vs. Alaska Anchorage (Pool A)
Oklahoma vs. San Diego (Pool B)
Nicholls State vs. Alaska Anchorage (Pool A)
Houston vs. Oklahoma (Pool B)
Nicholls State vs. Washington State (Pool A)
Houston vs. San Diego (Pool B)
Pool A #3 vs. Pool B #3 (5th place)
Pool A #2 vs. Pool B #2 (3rd place)
Pool A #1 vs. Pool B #1 (championship)
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