As is the case whenever a good thing comes to an end, there are plenty of people mourning the loss of the Thanksgiving tradition that is the Great Alaska Shootout. However, just because this year marks the final of the Shootout, it doesn’t mean fans can’t still enjoy a competitive few days of college basketball. University of Alaska Anchorage women will take on Binghamton University, Tulsa and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, while the UAA men will face CSU Bakersfield before potentially meeting up with Cal Poly, College of Charleston, Central Michigan, Sam Houston State, Idaho and Santa Clara.
The University of Alaska Anchorage announced in late August that the 40th annual GCI Great Alaska Shootout would be the final edition of the tournament. The 2017 GCI Great Alaska Shootout is set for Nov. 21-25 at the Alaska Airlines Center.
“The Shootout has been an iconic event at UAA for 40 years, but unfortunately we cannot sustain our funding of this tournament in the current budget climate,” said UAA chancellor Sam Gingerich in the initial press release announcing the tournament’s ending. “We are grateful for the enthusiastic support we’ve received over the years from our community, fans, volunteers, civic and business leaders and donors.”
Born in 1978 as the Sea Wolf Classic, the GCI Great Alaska Shootout is currently the longest-running regular-season college basketball tournament in the nation. UAA athletic director Tim McDiffett added that there are no plans to scale back the 2017 tournament.
“While we mourn its impending loss, we are committed to making the 2017 GCI Shootout a first-rate experience for the teams, patrons, and a celebration of its rich history,” McDiffett said. “We are appreciative to GCI for its unwavering support and to the fans, volunteers, sponsors and donors for their support of the Shootout over 40 years.”
Ian Marks, spokesman for the UAA athletics department, said “the changing landscape of college basketball did not make it financially viable to host the Shootout anymore.” Still, this year’s lineup will offer a last hurrah.
“We are excited about this year’s tournament,” Marks said in response to the level of competition. “Once again we have assembled a field of quality teams on both the men’s and women’s side. The focus of this year’s tournament will be the fans and their experience at the event.”
Overall, the Shootout has hosted 30 of the 35 programs to win an NCAA Div. I men’s basketball championship, while featuring 132 teams – an average of 3.4 per tournament – that went on to make the NCAA Tournament the following spring.
Individually, the Shootout has featured 296 future NBA players, 39 NBA champions, 25 NBA All-Stars, 10 NBA No. 1 draft picks, six Olympic gold medalists, four NBA Finals MVPs and one NBA MVP (Tim Duncan).
Now that the Shootout will no longer be on the agenda for UAA’s women’s and men’s teams, it remains to be seen how the competition schedule will change in the future.
“It is too early to tell what long-term effects the loss of the Shootout will have on the basketball programs,” Marks said.
For now, though, Marks said the teams are focusing on the task ahead. There would be nothing better than to walk away with the tournament trophy, an event that the Seawolves were not able to pull off last year.
For ticket info: 786-7811 or GoSeawolves.com/shootout.
2017 GCI GREAT ALASKA SHOOTOUT
Tuesday, Nov. 21 – First Round
5:30 p.m.: Binghamton vs. Tulsa
8 p.m.: Maryland Eastern Shore vs. Alaska Anchorage
Thursday, Nov. 23 – Championship Round
Noon: Third-place game: Binghamton/Tulsa loser vs. UMES/UAA loser
2:30 p.m.: Championship game: Binghamton/Tulsa winner vs. UMES/UAA winner
Wednesday, Nov. 22 – First Round
Noon (Game 1) – Cal Poly vs. College of Charleston
2:30 p.m. (Game 2) – Central Michigan vs. Sam Houston State
5:30 p.m. (Game 3) – Idaho vs. Santa Clara
8 p.m. (Game 4) – CSU Bakersfield vs. Alaska Anchorage
Thursday, Nov. 23 – Consolation Semifinals
5:30 p.m. (Game 5) – CP/C of C loser vs. CMU/SHSU loser
8 p.m. (Game 6) – Idaho/SCU loser vs. CSUB/UAA loser
Friday, Nov. 24 – Semifinals
5:30 p.m. (Game 7) – CP/C of C winner vs. CMU/SHSU winner
8 p.m. (Game 8) – Idaho/SCU winner vs. CSUB/UAA winner
Saturday, Nov. 25 – Finals/Championship
Noon (Game 9) – Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser (7th/8th place)
2:30 p.m. (Game 10) – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner (4th/6th place)
5:30 p.m. (Game 11) – Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser (3rd/5th place)
8 p.m. (Game 12) – Game 7 winner v. Game 8 winner (Championship)