June 1, 2010
HONOLULU, Hawai`i- Washington State University men's basketball has been added to the field of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, set for Dec. 22-25, 2010, at the Stan Sherriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT) announced Tuesday.
Washington State joins the field announced last December that includes Baylor, Butler, Florida State, Hawai`i, Mississippi State, San Diego and Utah. The tournament features four teams that reached the postseason in 2009-10, including national runner-up Butler. Baylor advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual national champion Duke, Florida State made the NCAA field of 65 and Mississippi State advanced to the second round of the NIT.
"Being a part of ESPN's Diamond Head Classic is a great opportunity for our program," WSU Head Coach Ken Bone said. "This tournament showcases an outstanding field of competition."
Over the past two seasons, the Cougars have faced three of the seven other teams in the tournament in Baylor, Mississippi State and San Diego. Last season, WSU defeated San Diego in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout to take home the tournament title.
"We are thrilled with the addition of Washington State to the second Annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic," said David Matlin, executive director of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic and Sheraton Hawai`i Bowl. "The Cougars, from the Pac-10, complete one of the most exciting tournament fields for the upcoming season."
The last tournament Washington State played in Hawai`i came during the 1996-97 season in which the Cougs went 1-2 in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu.
The Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, an eight-team men's college basketball tournament, will feature 12 games through three days - Dec. 22, 23 and 25. The Sheraton Hawai`i Bowl, also owned by ESPN Regional Television, will be played Dec. 24. Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through a bracket-tournament format. The two teams that remain undefeated throughout will face off in a championship game Christmas Day. Additional information can be found on the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic's official Web site: www.DiamondHeadClassic.com.
The Teams The 2010 field is a group that has made its mark in the postseason in recent years. Seven of the eight squads have participated in the NCAA Tournament within the last three seasons.
Baylor enjoyed a historic and record-setting season in 2009-10, winning a school-record 28 games and advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time in the modern tournament era. The 2009-10 season marked the third consecutive 20-win season and third straight with a postseason appearance - both school firsts. The Bears finished the season ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in program history.
Butler ranks among the most successful men's basketball programs in Division I through the past four seasons with a 118-22 record. In each of the past four seasons, the Bulldogs have captured the Horizon League regular-season championship, advanced to the NCAA Tournament and have been ranked in the Top 25. Last year's squad advanced all the way to the NCAA national championship game.
Florida State, which has played in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, is the fourth winningest program in the ACC in the last three seasons. The Seminoles have won 20 or more games in five of the last six seasons and have played in the postseason for a school-record five consecutive years. Florida State is one of only two teams in the ACC that has finished in the top four of the league standings in the last two seasons.
Hawai`i will again serve as the tournament host after finishing fourth in last year's inaugural Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The Rainbow Warriors will be under the direction of new head coach Gib Arnold, who was an assistant for the USC squad that won the 2009 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Arnold is widely regarded as one of the elite recruiters in college basketball and has already made his mark. One publication ranked this year's UH recruiting class as the seventh-best in the nation.
Mississippi State won 24 games last season--its fourth straight season with 20 or more wins--and earned a spot in the postseason for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons. The Bulldogs advanced to the SEC Tournament championship game for the second straight year and have claimed three of the last four SEC West Division regular-season titles.
Fourth-year San Diego head coach Bill Grier this season will field his first team comprised entirely of his recruits. In his first season at USD, Grier and the Toreros enjoyed a memorable 2007-08 campaign as the team went 22-14, captured the West Coast Conference Tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after knocking off No. 2 seed Connecticut.
Utah is looking to recapture the form of its 2008-09 Mountain West Conference championship season, when the Runnin' Utes went 24-10 and received a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, then the highest seed in history for a MWC team. Reigning MWC Defensive Player of the Year David Foster, standing at 7-foot-3, leads a skilled group of returning players and several new faces as Utah make its first trip to Hawai`i since 2002.
Washington State put together the program's fourth-straight winning record (16-15) and captured the 2009 Great Alaska Shootout title under first-year head coach Ken Bone. The Cougars have been to the postseason in three of the last four seasons--including two NCAA Tournament appearances--and return all five starters from last season's squad.