Aug. 14, 2009
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Washington State University men's basketball is one of six teams in the field of the 2009 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout, Nov. 25-28, at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena, the University of Alaska Anchorage announced Friday.
The Cougars will be joined in the tournament by host and NCAA DII member Alaska Anchorage, Houston, Nicholls State, Oklahoma and San Diego. With six teams instead of the traditional eight, the men's Shootout will undergo a format change for the first time, instituting Olympic-style pool play for 2009.
Washington State will compete in Pool A and is joined by Alaska Anchorage and Nicholls State. Pool B consists of Houston, Oklahoma and San Diego. First up for WSU is UAA in the opening game of the tournament, Wed., Nov. 25. The Cougars take Thanksgiving Day off, then face Nicholls State, Friday, Nov. 26.
On Saturday the third place teams from each pool will face each other for fifth place, the second place teams will compete for third and the two first place teams will battle for the Shootout Championship.
WSU participated in the Great Alaska Shootout one other time in 1981-82, as it went 1-2 against Alaska-Anchorage, Southwestern Louisiana and Iona. Last year San Diego State defeated Hampton, 76-47, in the championship game of the tournament.
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 coaching wins.
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.
Ravaged by injuries last season, San Diego finished 16-16 under second-year head coach Bill Grier. The Toreros got good news this summer, however, when it was learned leading scorer Brandon Johnson received 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.
2009 Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout Schedule
Sullivan Arena - Anchorage, Alaska
November 25-28 - 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)