What happened to the "Great" Alaska Shootout?
These days some are describing Alaska's marquee college basketball tournament more as a ho-hum shootout.
Held every year around Thanksgiving and hosted by the University of Alaska Anchorage, the Great Alaska Shootout has hosted some of the NCAA's most elite programs and many players who have gone on to become NBA all-stars, according to the basketball website Slam.
"Each of the last 45 NCAA champions have participated in this tournament at some point in their history," Slam notes, including Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina.
Not so in 2011 when Murray State captured the title by beating Southern Mississippi in the title game. This year's field lacked star power. Slam offers an interesting insight into how a 2006 NCAA rule change caused "all hell" to break loose from the perspective of Alaska Shootout fans, and prompted ESPN to morph from an organization covering basketball to one launching its own tournaments.
With the Shootout not being able to offer nearly as much money as the ESPN tournaments, the bigger schools flocked to those tournaments instead … And every year it's getting worse. The day might very well come when there will be no Shootout at all. Some might not see the big deal in all this, but for residents of Anchorage, it's huge … Generations of Anchorage residents who were once able to enjoy solid, top-notch college basketball in person must now come to grips with the fact that they likely won't see a Kentucky, Kansas or Duke play at Sullivan Arena ever again.
There's much more of interest, from the Alaska perspective, to this story. Read it at SlamOnline.