ESPN won't be at this year's Great Alaska Shootout, but one of its analysts will be. Only he'll be coaching, not talking into a microphone.
Steve Lavin, fired by UCLA in 2003, hired by St. John's a couple months ago and employed by ABC and ESPN during the seven years between coaching gigs, will return to the sidelines at the Shootout.
Lavin will be one of the biggest names -- and St. John's will be one of the biggest draws -- at the tournament, which runs Nov. 23-27 at Sullivan Arena. The Red Storm return five starters and 91 percent of their scoring from last season's 17-16 team, and Lavin, who is considered a top recruiter, has already added one of the top high school players from Los Angeles to the roster.
And while it's certainly worth reminding fans that St. John's is part of a men's field that returns to eight teams this year after a one-year downsizing to six, another number of note is five.
As in five-peat.
The UAA women, winners of four straight Shootouts, will be one of the teams to beat in the four-team women's tournament that runs Tuesday and Wednesday at Sullivan Arena during the week of Thanksgiving.
The women's field, released Wednesday, includes the usual lineup of three Division I teams and UAA. Other than UAA, only one of the teams -- Kent State of the Mid-American Conference -- had a winning record and made it to postseason play last season. That means the Seawolves, despite their Division II status, will be nothing less than co-favorites going into the tournament.
UAA opens defense of its title with a game against San Jose State, a Western Athletic Conference team that was 6-23 last season. Kent State, which finished 20-11 with a first-round loss in the women's NIT, will play Washington, a Pac-10 team that was 13-18 last season, in the other first-round game.
UAA is coming off a 24-5 season that ended in the second round of the Division II tournament. Tim Moser, who has never lost a Shootout game in four seasons as head coach, returns 10 letterwinners and has made some offseason roster additions that have the potential of making the Seawolves a more dominating inside team.
The UAA men will open play on Thanksgiving with a 7:30 p.m. game against Weber State, the regular-season Big Sky Conference champion.
The Wildcats are a late addition to the field of eight that was originally announced during last year's tournament. They replace Southeastern Louisiana.
Weber State, 20-11, is one of three teams in the men's tournament that made it to postseason play last season. Others are St. John's and Arizona State, 22-11 with a second-place finish in the Pac-10 regular season. All three lost in the first round of the NIT tournament.
2010 Great Alaska Shootout
Nov. 23-27 Sullivan Arena
Tuesday, Nov. 23
6 p.m. -- UAA (24-5) vs. San Jose State (6-23)
8 p.m. -- Kent State (20-11) vs. Washington (13-18)
Wednesday, Nov. 24
2:30 p.m. -- third-place game
5 p.m. -- championship game
Wednesday, Nov. 24
7:30 p.m. -- Southern Utah (7-22) vs. Drake (14-19)
9:45 p.m. -- Ball State (15-15) vs. St. John's (17-16)
Thursday, Nov. 25
5 p.m. -- Houston Baptist (12-21) vs. Arizona State (22-11)
7:30 p.m. -- UAA (17-10) vs. Weber State (20-11)
Friday, Nov. 26
Noon and 2 p.m. -- Consolation bracket games
5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. -- Semifinal games
Saturday, Nov. 27
Noon - 7th/8th-place game
2 p.m. - 4th/6th-place game
5:30 p.m. - 3rd/5th-place game
8 p.m. - Championship game
Anchorage Daily News