Category: Men’s Basketball

March 5, 2017 Lauren Cuddihy
suki wiggs:paul dunn.jpg
Suki Wiggs prepares to make a basket during the March 4 game against No. 3 Western Oregon. The No. 2 Seawolves' future in the NCAA tournament is up in the air, as of publication. Photo credit: Paul Dunn

The UAA men’s basketball team narrowed in on the end of their 2016-17 season at the GNAC Championships in Lacey, Washington. The season leading up to the tournament had proven to be successful, but it wasn’t enough to push them past No. 3 Western Oregon.

The Seawolves have officially been in season since late November, in that time playing a total of 29 games, 20 being conference games, but only losing eight games overall. This put them at a solid position in the conference at No. 2 overall, with a 72.4 percent win rate. In addition, the Seawolves have won every single home game that has taken place at the Alaska Airlines Center, totaling 16 games.

Although the Seawolves came into the GNAC Championships with a solid base to take on Western Oregon, the outcome was debatable from the beginning. The teams have only played each other twice before in the regular season, each winning one game a piece.

Being close rivals back to back ranks in the conference and in the West Region, the March 4 game only proved their competition even more, sending the teams into triple overtime.

As it’s expected, head coach Rusty Osborne and the team had to make some adjustments and specific preparations coming into the game.

“We have improved over the last week and a half… we’ve had a few slip ups along the way but we were able to identify things and make small changes and [I think we] benefited from it,” Osborne said.

The first half led neither team to the lead, although the Seawolves sparked the first 5 points quickly by senior forward Connor Devine and senior guard Diante Mitchell, the Wolves initially trailed behind until both teams battled back and forth for the lead.

Although both teams battled for the lead, they both also made many offensive errors, letting the game be a primarily defensive battle.

By the end of the first half, only four Seawolves had managed to get points in, all being seniors, including Devine, Mitchell, senior guard Spencer Svejcar and senior guard Suki Wiggs. UAA only trailed behind by 2 points, at 25-27.

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Connor Devine seeks an opening to get past Western Oregon's defense on March 4. Devine played 45 total minutes in the game, which lasted into triple overtime. Photo credit: Paul Dunn

Throughout the season, the team struggled with the changes that had been put into place, but senior forward Corey Hammell noticed the positive changes occurring during this game.

“We’re playing better together, it took a while for us to get to know each other and learn to play together, but we’ve made the adjustment and we [were] really clicking,” Hammell said.

The second half again proved to be a defensive battle. The offensive sides of both teams ended with many errors and again only had the same four Seawolves score for the remainder of the half.

The Wolves started off with an increasing lead, but only at most being 8 points ahead. With only two minutes left in the game, the Seawolves led 54-53 until Mitchell extended that lead at 13 seconds left to 55-53.

With almost no time remaining, it looked as if the Seawolves were going to pull through with the win. However, with two seconds left Western Oregon’s Evan Garrison got in a last second layup only to leave the teams at 55-55.

This put them teams in the first two overtime periods that resulted in nothing significant, the first overtime period ended at 62-62 and the second overtime period ended at 72-72.

To finish off the games, the Seawolves and Wolves battled it out for the third and final overtime period of the game.

Wiggs came in strong with the first four free throws of the period.

Quickly things began to look positive for the Seawolves, however, not even a minute later WOU took off. With only two minutes left in the game, the Wolves held a 7 point lead. The Seawolves tried to catch up but unsuccessfully.

Western Oregon finished off the third overtime period with a 7 point lead, leaving the Seawolves with a loss at 84-91.

Although the team was disappointed with the outcome, Osborne reflected that the future isn’t set and stone yet.

“It’s one of those things that if you win you keep playing, if you don’t then we don’t really know, we’re right on the cusp of eighth [place],” he said.

The Seawolf men’s NCAA playoff future was announced along with tournament brackets on Sunday night after publication of this edition.

March 6, 2016 Jordan Rodenberger

March Madness is upon us, and the Seawolves (21-11) were on the outside of the NCAA Division II tournament looking in entering the weekend. Sitting at the 10th spot in the NCAA West Region rankings, where the top eight teams get in, UAA likely had to win the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament to solidify it’s position in the “big dance.”

Heading into the tournament as the third seed in the conference, UAA matched up against sixth seeded Western Washington University (16-14). The Seawolves had already taken down the Vikings twice this season by just three points on both occasions.

“I expect it to be close again…they are a good team and very talented” said Seawolves’ head coach Rusty Osborne prior to the contest.

Osborne was correct in his prediction, however it was his team that fell short this time, 78-73 in the first round of the one-and-done GNAC tourney. The Seawolves shot just 37.9 percent from the field, including 20 misses from three-point land. Suki Wiggs, the winner of the GNAC Newcomer of the Year award, finished with 20 points and collected 12 rebounds while Brian McGill produced 16 points in his last game as a Seawolf.

The loss officially puts UAA’s season to rest, one that was filled with plenty of “if only” and “so close”.

“It is not like we were blasted out of a bunch of games. Every game except the Billings game has been a one possession game at the end.”

The same would hold true to this game as well.

Despite trailing by as many as nine points in the second half, the Seawolves did not lay down. The Green and Gold rallied back to take a 53-49 lead with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game. After exchanging several baskets and forcing many ties, the Vikings grasped on to a three point lead with 11 seconds to go. UAA senior guard Brian McGill sliced through the defense to create an open shot for the GNAC’s leading scorer Wiggs in the corner for three, but Wiggs didn’t get the bounce, and the ball fell into the hands of WWU, concluding the Seawolves’ season.

Jeffrey Parker led the charge for the Vikings, hitting five trifectas on his way to pouring in 31 points. Senior Ricardo Maxwell’s all around performance of 18 points, six rebounds, and six assists propelled Western Washington to victory, but they knew it wasn’t going to come easy.

“Anchorage is a great team with tremendous players” said Western Washington’s head coach Tony Dominguez after the game, “Rusty is obviously a great coach so its always going to be a battle.”

This was the fourth straight season that the Men’s basketball team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Western Washington would go on to lose to Alaska Fairbanks the next night, advancing the Nanooks to the finals, where they would ultimately be defeated by Western Oregon 78-71.

The Seawolves have to watch the NCAA tournament from home, but having lost only two seniors this season, UAA looks to redeem themselves during the 2016-17 campaign.

February 28, 2016 Jordan Rodenberger

Travis Parrish, a junior forward for UAA Men’s basketball team, has had many stops on his way to becoming a Seawolf. It began in West Bountiful, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, where Travis would spend his days doing odd jobs and playing a plethora of sports, including baseball, football, basketball and running track….

February 19, 2016 Jordan Rodenberger

The Seawolves came out of the gates scorching and never looked back in their 93-67 wire-to-wire win over the Cavaliers. Suki Wiggs had a game-high 22 points. while senior Brian McGill dropped 19 points as well as nine assists. Corey Hammell once again had a huge game on the boards, hauling in 13 rebounds to go…

February 14, 2016 Jordan Rodenberger

Last Thurday’s meeting between rivals UAA and the Alaska Nanooks featured two of the biggest stars in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

The Seawolves’ Suki Wiggs and Nanooks’ Travante Williams both place in the top-5 for three statistical categories: scoring, rebounds, and steals.

This time around, the back-and-forth affair between the two schools ended with a 76-71 victory for the Seawolves.

Wiggs totaled 20 points and 10 boards while Brian McGill had a game-high 28 points for the Seawolves. Corey Hammell recorded 15 rebounds, continuing his impressive defensive campaign this season. As for the Nanooks, Williams finished with 22 points while Bangaly Kaba tallied 18.

Despite this being their fourth game in eight days, the travel and successive game schedule did not seem to drain any spirit from UAA.

“We had such good energy in the locker room and in the warmups that we didn’t think about how tired we were,” UAA guard Drew Peterson said.

The game began with the two teams alternating buckets, causing eight lead changes in just the first 11 minutes. Williams scored ten of his team’s first 15 points, while the Seawolves struggled to find their rhythm against the Nanooks’ 2-3 zone.

With Wiggs shooting just 2-10 in the first half, Hammell’s offensive rebounds and McGill’s sharp shooting kept the Seawolves in the game at the half, trailing 33-31.

The Nanooks went on a 9-4 run to start the second half. UAA answered UAF’s scoring spree by knocking down five straight shots. Wiggs drilled four of his next five field goals, and the two teams found themselves with the game tied at 50 with 11:24 remaining.

A pair of Williams’ free throws gave UAF a 56-54 advantage. On the following possession, McGill found Peterson for a three-pointer to give UAA the lead for good.

“I just told myself to trust my shot,” Peterson said.

Peterson scored 12 of his career-high 14 points in the second half to help lift the Seawolves.

“Drew is a very accomplished player…and I am really happy he was able to show everyone what he is capable of,” Head coach Rusty Osborne said.

With the game still up for grabs, Hammell and Williams got tangled up under the basket, followed by some shoving and jawing. Both players were issued technicals, however neither were given a flagrant foul.

“That is just two competitors not backing down. I don’t think there was anything malicious on either one’s part,” Osborne said.

The Seawolves nearly blew a nine-point lead late in the contest due to back-to-back threes from Kaba.

Two Peterson free throws and a Kaba miss sealed the 5-point win for the Seawolves.

UAA has now swept the season series with the Nanooks. UAA snagged a 100-91 overtime win last month in Fairbanks against the Blue and Gold and have now won 20 of their last 21 match ups against their northern neighbors.

The Seawolves host Concordia this Thursday before preparing to face the GNAC-leading Western Oregon Wolves Saturday. Both game will be played at the Alaska Airlines Center.

February 13, 2016 Jordan Rodenberger

Thurday’s meeting between rivals UAA and UAF featured two of the biggest starts in the GNAC. Seawolves’ guard Suki Wiggs and Alaska Fairbanks’ forward Travante Williams have been making noise in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, and fans have taken notice. Prior the game on Feb. 11, Wiggs led the GNAC in points per game, was third in rebounds, and fifth in steals. Williams’ 18.1ppg was good for third in the conference, while also being third in three-pointers made and leading all players in steals per game. The last time these two faced off on Jan. 16, Wiggs got the best of Williams, outscoring him 30 to 18, and snagging a 100-91 win in overtime up in Fairbanks.

This time around, the back-and-forth affair between the two Alaskan colleges ended with a 76-71 victory for the Seawolves, the 20th time they have beaten the Nanooks in their last 21 match ups. Despite this being their fourth game in eight days, the travel and grueling games did not seem to drain any spirit from UAA.

“We had such good energy in the locker room and in the warmups that we didn’t think about how tired we were” said guard Drew Peterson.

The game began with the two teams alternating buckets, causing eight lead changes in just the first 11 minutes. Williams got the ball rolling early, scoring ten of UAF’s first 15 points. UAA tried answering back, but could not find their rhythm against the Nanooks’ 2-3 zone. With Wiggs shooting just 2-10 in the first half, Corey Hammell’s offensive rebounds and senior Brian McGill’s sharp shooting kept the Seawolves in the game at the half, trailing 33-31.

Each team began the second half with their own run. UAA answered UAF’s scoring spree by knocking down five straight shots while holding the Nanooks to 1-6 from the floor. Wiggs drilled four of his next five field goals, and the two rivals found themselves with the game tied at 50 with 11:24 remaining.

A pair of Travante Williams’ free throws gave UAF a 56-54 advantage. On the following possession, McGill found guard Drew Peterson for a three-pointer to give UAA the lead for good.

“I just told myself to trust my shot.” said Peterson.

Peterson scored 12 of his career-high 14 points in the second half to help lift the Seawolves.

“Drew is a very accomplished player…and I am really happy he was able to show everyone what he is capable of.” said head coach Rusty Osborne.

With the game still up for grabs, UAA big-man Corey Hammell and UAF star Travante Williams got tangled up under the basket, followed by some shoving and jawing. Both players were issued technicals, however neither were given a flagrant foul.

“That is just two competitors not backing down. I don’t think there was anything malicious on either one’s part” said Osborne.

The Seawolves had a nine-point lead with under a minute left in the game, until UAF forward Bangaly Kaba nailed a three, making the score 74-68 with 27 seconds left. On the pursuing inbounds, UAA turned it over and the ball bounced right into Kaba’s hands, where he hit another three to make it just a one possession game with 24 seconds left. Two Peterson free throws and a Kaba miss sealed the win for the Seawolves.

Brian McGill had a game-high 28 points and is now in the top-15 on UAA’s all-time scoring list. Wiggs totaled 20 points and 10 boards while Corey Hammell had 15 rebounds. As for Alaska Fairbanks, Williams finished with 22 points, while Kaba tallied 18 points.

The Men’s basketball team now has a full week off, and will host Concordia on Thursday Feb. 18, and Western Oregon the following Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center.

January 31, 2016 Nolin Ainsworth

11 different St. Martin’s Saints scored in Thursday night’s game against UAA, but it was Cole Preston’s four points late in the second half that fans likely stewed over as they exited the Alaska Airlines Center.

The Seawolves (9-2 GNAC, 16-6) were upended by the Saints (3-8 GNAC, 9-10) 73-70.

With the game tied, 66-all, the 6’4″ shooting guard grabbed his own miss underneath the basket before laying the ball up again, putting the Saints up two. The Seawolves didn’t answer on the other end, and Preston forced the issue again — scoring two more points by way of two free throws. The Seawolves nearly tied the game at the buzzer, but Suki Wiggs’ 80 feet heave was just off the mark, giving the Saints the win.

“For us, it was really about limiting our mistakes, trying to play simple basketball, and find the open man,” said Alex Pribble, St. Martin’s head coach.

After going 14-2 for a two-month stretch beginning the second week of November, the Seawolves have now lost two of their last three games. UAA lost to Western Oregon last Thursday before getting a win against Concordia two days later.

“We were hard to guard, we were shooting high percentage, we were getting to the free throw line, we were aggressive,” UAA head coach Rusty Osborne said of his team’s play during that stretch. “And then against Western Oregon all our problems just stemmed from poor decision-making and it has continued all the way up into today.”

Corey Hammell, Brian McGill, and Wiggs scored 16 points a piece. Wiggs, who is averaging 24 points a game this season, shot only 4 of 19 from the field. Meanwhile, along with Preston’s 12 points and 7 assists, the Saints also got a boost from Fred Jorg’s 16 points.

The Seawolves fell behind early in the game but kept it close through out the first half. Christian Leckband put the Seawolves up 54-52 near the mid way point the half. The Saints responded five minutes later, putting together an 8-2 run. St. Martin’s took the lead for good when Preston went to work several possessions later.

November 29, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

San Jose State 91 – UAA 87

The UAA Seawolves played their hearts out Saturday against the San Jose Spartans — but fell by four points to the Californians in their final game in the GCI Great Alaska Shootout. It was the third time in this year’s tournament the Seawolves’ fate was decided by 6 points or less. Sekou “Suki” Wiggs dazzled the Alaska Airlines Center crowd once again, scoring 30 points in the contest. The former O’Dea High School standout is now the all-time scoring champion of the 38-year-old Great Alaska Shootout after posting 98 points over the course of the weekend. Not to be outdone, San Jose senior forward Frank Rogers also put up big numbers for his squad. Rogers scored 32 points in 36 minutes of action. On a night when neither team was very sharp defensively, the Spartans out rebounded the Seawolves 40-26.

UAA 71 – Drexel 65

Seawolves guard Sekou “Suki” Wiggs had another outstanding performance, scoring 33 points, and UAA ousted Drexel in the consolation semi-finals of the GCI Great Alaska Shootout Friday afternoon. After a slow start to the game, Drexel’s play picked up midway through the first half with four unanswered buckets. UAA would cling to a 40-36 halftime lead.

Wiggs heated up again in the second half, scoring timely baskets, including a three at the 8:41 mark that put UAA up for good. In addition, Seawolf Corey Hammell owned the offensive and defensive boards. The Santa Rosa junior college transfer collected a team-high 12 rebounds. Drexel could not build on the momentum that forward Rodney Williams’ rim-rocking dunk gave them approximately eight minutes into the half. Drexel looked to find guard Sammy Mojica in the offense down the stretch, after the sophomore was 5 of 8 from the field in the first half. The sophomore’s career-high 20 points was not enough to take down the Seawolves.

Middle Tennessee 75 – UAA 72

The Seawolves lost to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders out of Murfreesboro, TN in the quarterfinal game of the GCI Great Alaska Shootout last Thursday. The Blue Raiders were led by super sixth-man Perrin Buford’s 18 points and 4 rebounds. Seawolf Sekou “Suki” Wiggs did everything he could to give the Seawolves a chance to upset the Conference-USA team, going off with 33 points. UAA had an opportunity late to tie the game late with under a minute to play, but Spencer Svejcar’s three point miss kept the game at 69-66.

November 15, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

Christian Leckband

Position: Forward

Major: Business Administration, Marketing

Basketball is king for many youth in rural Alaska. A brightly lit gymnasium and rack of basketballs can serve as a refuge from the long winters and cold nights that characterize the far North.

Two of the Seawolves’ own grew up in this environment. Senior forward Christian Leckband of the men’s team was raised in Nome, Alaska and starred for Nome-Beltz High School from 2007-11.

Senior guard Jenna Buchanan was recruited by the Seawolves out of Galena, Alaska, a small village in between Fairbanks and Nome on the Yukon River. Buchanan played on the Galena High School team from 2008-2012 and helped the Lady Hawks win their first-ever state championship as a senior.

The similarities between Leckband and Buchanan don’t stop there. Prior to the start of the 2015-16 season, the two have played in the exact same number of college games – 83. The two also shoot the three ball with virtually the same precision. Over the past three seasons, Leckband has shot 39% from long range while Buchanan has shot 40%.

In an exclusive interview with The Northern Light (pages 16-17), TNL delves more deeply into the lives and basketball careers of these two Alaskans.

TNL: I know you are from Nome, have you lived there your whole life?

Leckband: “I kind of moved around a little bit growing up. I lived in Seward for a while. I lived in Fairbanks for a little bit, lived out in Palmer even for a little while. But Nome was really kind of the steady place for me. I’ve always had just a bunch of family there so it’s always been the community I go back to.”

How did Nome shape your upbringing as a basketball player?

“Having such a small town, like honestly, it’s a huge basketball town. Like any kind of rural village, small town, rural, rural Alaska, if you go out there the big sport is usually basketball. Just growing up with that I developed more of a love for the game. I remember being a little kid and I’d go to all the Nome [High School] varsity games and you would literally have like, half of the town in the gym, just packed in there.”

What were some of your “coming of age” moments in Nome as a basketball player?

“It’s kind of funny how late everything kind of came around for me. The funny story that my high school coach likes to tell is that I went from the camera man my freshman year in high school to starting center the next year… Well my freshman year I was like 5’ 9”, 5’ 10” and then I grew to like 6’ 4” over a summer, yeah, it was kind of an awkward summer. I think my senior year is when I kind of came into my own and actually started to seriously consider college basketball as an option for me.”

A community like Nome — they must really rally around that team and so as a star player on a team, did it sometimes feel like the whole town was cheering for you?

Yeah, it’s actually unbelievable for me during that time because of how much…support I got from them. To this day it’s even unbelievable. I’ll still get messages and texts from community members saying like, “Oh, we saw you on TV,” or you know like, “Great job,” just really supporting me.”

Who was your biggest mentor as a kid?

“I’ve had a lot of family support. My oldest cousin Haven — he is basically like a brother to me. He was a huge mentor for me. He always kept me grounded whenever I would get a little too big-headed at times but he would also pick me up when I really needed it and he really drove me…to make the most of my opportunities.”

What were some of the other things you did outside of basketball?

“A lot of my time was honestly spent at the gym or just hanging out with friends. We’d do typical kids stuff — play video games, hang out, sleep overs, all that. Just go out and have a lot of fun. Being in Nome you kind of have to create your own fun. The summers are absolutely amazing. Just being able to go out on the countryside — we’d go on hikes, go on camping trips, we’d go out on the beach, make big fires and invite a bunch of people.”

Okay, back on the basketball track — it sounds like in high school you were one of the tallest players on your team and then coming to a collegiate team where you got probably some bigger guys. What was that like finding your role in college?

I developed so late that when I did finally hit my growth spurt I was able to retain my guard capabilities. It was kind of a blessing for me to develop later in life. I grew up my entire life as a guard but as soon as I got to high school, being the tallest player on my team, I had to play center just out of the necessity.”

What have been some of your favorite experiences as a college basketball player here at UAA?

Honestly, I’ve had an amazing time over these last five years. A lot of it has been the relationships I’ve been able to develop. I’ve been able to meet such a wide variety of people and develop relationships with teammates, other athletes. I’ve been grateful for my experience here.

It’s been quite the change kind of seeing the development of [the Alaska Airlines Center]. I started out playing in the Wells Fargo [Sports Complex] and so I’ve had the experience playing over there and playing in the [AAC]. I kind of miss the old gym honestly, I didn’t mind the Wells Fargo all that much, but you can’t really compare it to what we have now at the arena, it’s an amazing facility.”

Why would you say it’s sad to not play in the Wells Fargo anymore?

“I come from a small town; I’m used to small, compact gyms and everything. That’s what I grew up playing in. When I came to the Wells Fargo I was just kind of used to that setting.”

Where’s your favorite spot on the floor to shoot from?

Ooooo… if I had to pick one? Left wing, that’s probably my favorite spot.”

Who is your favorite player in all of basketball?

I’m a [Kevin Durant] fan. Growing up like I’ve always loved LeBron James — he was my favorite player. I’m a big KD fan though … But if I had to pick one person’s game to realistically model after like I love [the Golden State Warriors’] Klay Thompson’s.”

Who is one person that could challenge you in a three point shooting contest?

For players that I have personally played with on the team Kyle Fossman and Travis Thompson are some of the guys I’d have to feel pretty good that day to challenge them to a shoot off. Brian McGill is also one of those guys who when he gets rolling. Guys we have on the team this year, Spencer [Svejcar] is a really good three point shooter when he gets going, same with Diante [Mitchell], we have quite a few good shooters on the team.”

Do you have a favorite shootout memory?

“I think the Loyola-Marymount game was a fun one. That might have been my sophomore year, back when we had the shootout over in the Sullivan Arena. That was a tough game. It was probably one of my favorite inspirational speeches that [Coach Rusty Osborne] ever gave to us. He comes into the locker room and he just — I can’t give all the details of it because he said a few choice words — but he came in there and he just rallied us and we fought the entire second half and we beat a very good Loyola Marymount team that year.”

What are your goals for this season – either individually or as a team?

I think we have a lot of talent on the team this year and because of that I think we can go pretty far — you know as far any team in the past has or even farther than that. I have a lot of expectations for this year, just from a talent level, I think we’re very talented. I think that its still very early to see how far we can go. We have a lot of new guys that are coming in and expected to play a lot of the minutes. And coming in it takes a while to learn just the systems we have defensively, offensively, everything like that. I’ve been proud of how they have done so far and I can only expect things to get better.”

What do you plan on doing after you graduate?

I’ve actually had this question quite a bit. I’m not too sure what the next step for me. The biggest thing for me right now — there is only two focuses for me right now and that’s finishing up my degree and finishing up my senior year of basketball on a good note. I never really expected to be here in this college basketball life, so who knows what might happen after that.”

November 15, 2015 Claire Lubke

In 1977, a spirited man named Bob Rachal became UAA’s head coach, appointed by then Chancellor, John Lindauer. Rachal, with his big personality and big ideas, not only redefined UAA’s current basketball team — from the Sourdoughs to the Seawolves — but also pioneered the future of basketball in Alaska.

Rachal noticed that the NCAA had a regulation stating that any games played outside of the lower-48 would not count towards season records. With this information, he proposed the Seawolf Classic — an event in which Division I schools would be invited to play the UAA Seawolves in Alaska, before (and without penalty) to their regular season. The Division I schools were compensated to play in Alaska and got to play their favorite game in a unique place, while UAA got to host an unprecedented level of basketball in their home and for their fans.

While Rachal left UAA due to a recruiting scandal before the first event, in 1978, his vision came to life. In 1979, Billy Packer, a commentator of the second annual Seawolf Classic, unintentionally renamed the event, coining the term, “The Great Alaska Shootout.” Over the next few years, the Shootout increased in popularity and notoriety, especially with the opening of the new, state of the art, Sullivan Arena in 1983, which could seat nearly 8,000 fans. In 1984, the Shootout turned its first profit and in 1985, ESPN began live broadcasts of the Shootout. College basketball fans all over the lower 48 watched games taking place in Anchorage, Alaska — still an unheard of dynamic today. Many consider this period from the mid 1980’s to the early 2000s to be the Shootout glory days.

“I remember being in awe of players like Ray Allen of UConn and Jeff Capel from Duke and feeling like I was in the presence of royalty when Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Indiana’s Bobby Knight walked onto the floor at Sullivan Arena,” said Mike Tunseth, in a commentary article for the ADN, on his first experiences with the Great Alaska Shootout.

The Shootout was one of the only tournament of its kind and it consistently attracted big name schools in basketball. In 1997, 52,000 people attended the Shootout over its four days — more than 20 percent of Anchorage’s population at the time.

Yet, by the mid 2000s, college basketball had become a big business and the NCAA had approved numerous exempt tournaments, mostly for various charitable causes. It became increasingly difficult to attract the same caliber of ball players. Then, for the 2006-2007 season, the NCAA changed its scheduling rules entirely, furthering competition for the Shootout. In the 2006 season, none of the teams in the Shootout made the NCAA’s Division 1 tournament for the first time in history. In 2007, ESPN stopped airing the Shootout and began hosting its own tournaments. By 2009, only six teams were recruited to play in the tournament, compared to the typical eight.

In 2011, the Alaska state legislature gave UAA athletics a $2 million grant to revamp the once thriving Shootout. This had a lot of Alaskans discussing its relevance — was the Shootout outdated? Was this something that Alaskans supported, personally, let alone financially?

While the answers to these questions remain up in the air, the Great Alaska Shootout is in its 37th year, and it has come to play. The Shootout got a new sponsor in 2014, when GCI replaced the 20-year sponsor, Carrs-Safeway. GCI has expressed their intent to revive the Shootout as a sold out event and a signature of Alaskans’ Thanksgiving weekend, without asking for state funds, and they’re well on their way, particularly with the help of the new Alaska Airlines Center. As the Sullivan Arena once did, the Alaska Airlines Center brings validity to the level of play available in the 49th state.

“[The Alaska Airlines Center] is right up there with the best of them,” Ryan McCarthy, UAA women’s head basketball coach, said. The Great Alaska Shootout has also entered a contract with Basketball Travelers Inc., a leading organizer for domestic and international basketball tournaments.

With all things, the future of The Great Alaska Shootout is unknown. Yet, the Shootout’s history doesn’t only tell of a time when UAA was able to attract high caliber basketball teams because of a fortunate NCAA policy, but it also captures a time when the people of Alaska celebrated and had a lot of fun with basketball in their state. That needn’t change. The men and women seawolf basketball teams play really competitively in their division — the women lead their region in the regular season last year — and the new Alaska Airlines Center is a great place to grab a bite and spend a cold evening inside, cheering with friends and family. Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to be thankful for the legacy of The Great Alaska Shootout and great basketball played by Alaskan student athletes.

June 2, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

About a month ago Stephen Curry was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.The Golden State Warriors shooting guard helped his club jump out to an early lead in the Western Conference this season. They finished the regular season with 67 wins, the most in the league (five less wins than Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the…

March 5, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

The UAA men’s basketball team did not look up to the task of upsetting No. 20 Western Oregon last week. The Great Northwest Athletic Conference first-place Wolves looked quick, long and skilled on the first sequences of the game Feb. 26. But basketball games aren’t decided in the first five minutes of the game —…

February 11, 2015 Nolin Ainsworth

The Alaska Nanooks guard Ashton Edwards drove the ball across the half court line and several feet outside the three point line before pulling up off of one foot and launching a three pointer with a chance to beat the Seawolves with time expiring. His shot was a little too strong and the ball hit…

July 22, 2014 TNL Staff

Courtesy of UAA Sports Information

Release: July 18, 2014

Men's BasketballANCHORAGE – University of Alaska Anchorage men’s basketball head coach Rusty Osborne has announced his team’s schedule for the 2014-15 season, including 19 home games at the brand-new Alaska Airlines Center.

The Seawolves, on the heels of nine straight winning campaigns, begin with the annual Green & Gold game on Oct. 18 and an Alumni exhibition on Nov. 1.

The regular season starts at home against future league foe Concordia (Ore.) with games Nov. 7-8, followed by an important early road trip against West Region opponents Sonoma State and Chico State in California, Nov. 14-15.

The GCI Great Alaska Shootout returns for its 37th edition Nov. 26-29, with UAA challenging Div. I Pacific live nationally on CBS Sports Network in the first round. Other visitors for the tournament include Missouri State, Colorado State, Rice, Mercer, Washington State and UC Santa Barbara.

Four home games dot the December schedule, including critical West Region clashes with BYU-Hawaii and Humboldt State in the annual UAA Jamboree, Dec. 12-13.

After an early start to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference slate with road games Dec. 4 (at Saint Martin’s) and Dec. 6 (at Western Oregon), the Seawolves make their GNAC home debuts at the Alaska Airlines Center with a New Year’s Day showdown against Simon Fraser and a Jan. 3 game against Western Washington.

The rest of the GNAC home slate includes Jan. 22 vs. Central Washington, Jan. 24 vs. Northwest Nazarene, Feb. 7 vs. Alaska Fairbanks, Feb. 12 vs. Montana State Billings, Feb. 14 vs. Seattle Pacific, Feb. 26 vs. Western Oregon, and Feb. 28 vs Saint Martin’s.
The fifth annual GNAC Championships move this year to the MSU Billings campus, Mar. 4-7, with the NCAA Div. II West Regional Championships set for Mar. 13-16 at a to-be-determined campus host site.

For season ticket information, contact the UAA Athletics Box Office at 907-786-1562 or[email protected].


April 29, 2014 Travis Dowling

Feb. 22

The last basketball game to be played in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex was played on Saturday night between the UAA and Western Oregon University. This game was to be remembered as the last game at Wells Fargo and nothing more. But what started out as a straightforward final match, quickly escalated into a historic game with 2 broken records and countless moments of ecstasy for Seawolf fans.

UAA dominated the first half of the game, though by half time, WOU cut down their lead by 8 points. UAA led the score at halftime with 43-35.

Before the start of the second half, attention was drawn to Seawolf senior guard Kyle Fossman’s career and his proximity to tying or breaking former Seawolf Mark Drake’s previous school record of ‘most number of three-pointers in a career’. At the start of the game he had needed seven three-pointers to tie the 243 three-point record. But going into half time Fossman was 6-10 from beyond the three-point mark.

Another Seawolf, Travis Thompson, junior guard, was 4 3-pointers shy of tying the ‘most 3-pointers in a season’ record that was previously held by former Seawolf Kemmy Burgess of a 100 3-pointers in a season, in 2003-04.

Both Fossman and Thompson tied and broke the records in second half of the game, but did not stop there. They continued to add to their totals by making more and more three-pointers.

Thompson, with a total of 33 points, closed out the night, 8 of 12 on 3-pointers. Fossman, who had a career high of 40 points, went 12 of 16 on 3-pointers. Fossman set a new record for the ‘most number of 3-pointers in a career’ and broke the record for most number of 3 pointers in a season. Thompson set a new record for ‘most number of 3-pointers in a season’.

The focus of the game may have become the two players and their moments of glory, but Seawolf fans were not left disappointed in the end, with UAA beating WOU by a score of 96 to 77.

In sports there are moments in time that are forever etched into the memories of those that witness the event. This basketball game, which not only marked the end of an era at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex, but also saw the breaking of 3 and setting of records, is one such moment that will forever be remembered as a historic game.

March 4, 2014 Travis Dowling

Feb. 27, 2014

In what was a tightly contested basketball game, the Nanooks of Fairbanks ended a 16-game losing streak against the Seawolves of Anchorage, with a final score of 68 to 70.

November 26, 2013 Web Editor

Here’s the Women’s and Men’s Great Alaska Shootout Schedule!

Also: get a break down with Thomas McIntyre and Mark Hoffman including stats on the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves (Women’s and Men’s), Georgetown University Hoyas, Nicholls State University Colonels, UC Riverside Highlanders, Indiana State Sycamores, University of Denver Pioneers, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix, University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Pepperdine University Waves, Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, and Harvard University Crimson.

October 11, 2013 Thomas McIntyre

“I don’t think I would lose — other than to Kobe Bryant, because he steals all my moves,” Michael Jordan said.

That’s how Air responded when asked how’d he fair in one-on-one games against Jerry West (seriously?), Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

No one does arrogant better than Mike. But he’s right. Right?

I think so. But I figured I’d show my work. To confirm Jordan’s place as the head-to-head king, I’ve run a hypothetical one-on-one tournament involving all eight players.

Yes, it’s a slow news week — except for the MLB Playoffs. I meant it’s slow for the popular sports.


Round 1

Michael Jordan (1) def. Jerry West (8) 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist foolishly admitted to losing a game of one-on-one to a 49-year-old Jordan last year. With all due respect, I’m not sure a prime West could step to Kidd-Gilchrist today and get a win.

Advantage goes to Jordan, who will beat up West worse than he did Steve Kerr — look it up.

Kobe Bryant (2) def. Elgin Baylor (7)

Laker-on-Laker crime is the best. I could be discrediting the legend here, but Baylor did his damage during the 1960s. He’s a more complete and less athletic Nick Young in 2013.

Baylor scores more on Kobe than Bow Wow did. He will score a point, to be exact.

LeBron James (3) def. Carmelo Anthony (6)

You can smooth talk me into Anthony here until I solve the equation Melo is still wracking his brain over: good offense + good “x” = great basketball player.

“Hair? Arm sleeves? Tattoos? Hats?” said a flustered Anthony.

Defense. “X” is defense. James punishes him.

Julius Erving (4) def. Dwyane Wade (5)

If anyone is that dude, Erving is that dude. The matchup is interesting, though. Wade has always been more of an opportunistic team defensive player than a lockdown man defender. He’s got too much size and hypnotic skill to overcome against Doc.

Round 2

Jordan (1) def. Erving (4)

Erving rattled off an unusual all-time starting lineup while on the soon-to-be cancelled “Fox Sports Live” earlier this month. He chose to exclude Jordan from the five-man rotation.

If we know anything about Jordan, we can assume he’s watched the clip several thousand times while taking violent cigar rips. As his sociopathic Hall of Fame speech suggests, MJ will probably treat this as a blood feud going forward.

Scratching Sir Michael’s arm was enough to send him into a fit of rage during his playing days. Erving might as well have killed Jordan’s entire family. Mike moves on.

James (3) def. Bryant (2)

Not an outcome I would have pegged a couple years ago. James’ best is now better than Kobe’s best. He’s evolved into the player we all hoped he’d be ever since he risked his amateur status by accepting a demure, fully loaded 2003 Hummer H2 in high school.

James will give Bryant hell on defense. Bryant will try all his tricks, hissing and talking trash in Italian.

In the end, James’ dribble drives and post play give him the edge most nights. This is one of those nights.


Jordan (1) def. James (3)

A matchup so big MTV would resurrect “The Shop” for a one-off episode dedicated to the “Jordan vs. James” debate. That’s the best way I can frame it to establish the significance.

We made it through “Chris Brown vs. Honorable Human Beings” and “Kimmel vs. Kanye” with no “Shop” revival, so this is unchartered territory.

Jordan will hug his children, kiss his wife, and take a few more strides in his favorite pair of oversized jeans. Then he will go to war. After kicking out of multiple finishers and taking a dozen unprotected chair shots to the head, he will win.

Moments later, he will evaporate. Jordan’s legacy is complete.

And as one last “eff you” to Erving, he’ll leave Doc his majority ownership share of the Charlotte Bobcats.

September 10, 2013 Thomas McIntyre

The Seawolf men’s basketball team is a couple months away from taking the floor for the 2013-14 season. Their mission will be to top the 18-9 record they posted last year, which included wins over two Division I opponents in the Great Alaska Shootout: UC Riverside and Loyola Marymount.

Losing seniors Liam Gibcus and Abebe Demissie forced the Seawolves to make up for roughly 20 points and 10 boards per game. The two also brought valuable size around the rim.

Upon first look at the class of incoming players, it appears the transition from Gibcus and Demissie will go smoothly. All four newbies stand at least 6-foot-7 and have made their mark playing forward and center.

For the recruits — Jackson McTier, Brad Mears, Jacob Craft and Kalidou Diouf — it won’t fall on them to match the production that’s walked away. Their main roles will be to bang down low and feed off the loaded Seawolves backcourt.

McTier is a 17-year-old freshman forward from Rockhampton, Australia, who measures in at 6-foot-8. He’s got a history of winning, and he tallied 17.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game as a high school senior. His youth and near double-double average makes him an enticing prospect.

UAA has hit pay dirt recruiting out of Australia before, and McTier could continue the success.

Mears is starting his green and gold run as a junior having played two seasons at Snow College, where he shared the floor with current Seawolf star Teancum Stafford for a year. He hails from South Jordan, Utah, and should be an asset in the post with his 6-foot-9, 225-pound build.

Head coach Rusty Osborne thought Mears’ numbers at Snow College (4.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game) were deceiving and expects him to show he’s more talented than they suggest.

Craft’s story is eye-catching because he’s entering the UAA basketball program alongside his wife, Emily Craft, who’s signed on to play for the women’s squad. He’s a rangy 6-foot-7 forward from Sandy, Utah.

What adds to Craft’s intrigue is his age. He’s 22 years old, yet still has four years of eligibility left. A Latter-day Saint Church mission and a redshirt season at Central Wyoming are to thank for his unique situation.

Diouf is an import from Germany who will redshirt this year as he becomes acclimated with the change in environment. Like McTier, he is accustomed to winning — his high school team captured four straight national titles.

Western Oregon transfer Brian McGill and former Second Team All-GNAC selection Travis Thompson are also taking the court this season after redshirting last year. The pair should put UAA’s set of guards over the top.

With an influx of young and veteran ball players and a healthy set of established returnees, the ‘Wolves have the ammo to top their previous campaign.

The Seawolves recently scheduled an exhibition game with BYU in Provo, Utah. The Nov. 2 matchup will serve as a stiff welcome back to action.

June 25, 2013 Keon McMillan

Only a couple months removed from being named the 2012-13 team MVP, Kyle Fossman is back on his grind. His play also netted him a First Team All-GNAC selection, but he isn’t resting on his laurels this offseason.

April 9, 2013 Web Editor

by Mark Hoffman, contributor

As of March 21, the coun­try’s most renowned institu­tion of higher learning can add another accomplishment to its lengthy list of achievements: its first NCAA basketball tournament victory.

The Harvard Crimson’s stunning 68-62 upset win over the New Mexico Lobos busted brackets across the coun­try and helped incite the madness that is March. Though eliminat­ed in the next round, the Crimson will spend the offseason revel­ing in victory before kicking off next year’s campaign at the 2013 Great Alaska Shootout.

Most importantly for the Har­vard basketball team, the signa­ture win was a vital step for a program on the rise.

Only a year removed from the “Linsanity” caused by Harvard-grad-turned-NBA-star Jeremy Lin, the program’s latest mile­stone has placed Harvard smack dab in the middle of the basket­ball landscape.

OK, maybe “smack dab in the middle” is overstating it a bit. But they are definitely on the map. And that’s not exactly something they are used to.

After all, Harvard is still a school known more for their pro­pensity to develop US presidents rather than NBA players. But head coach – and former Duke point guard – Tommy Amaker brought a strong-rooted coaching pedigree to the program when he took over in 2007, and together they have climbed the ladder to NCAA hoops relevance.

In 2011, they clinched a share of their first-ever Ivy League conference champi­onship. In 2012, they were ranked in the top 25 in the AP and Coaches Poll’s for the first time in school his­tory. And then came their NCAA tournament win in an unexpectedly successful 2012- 13 season.

Hopes appeared bleak for the Crimson back in Novem­ber. Senior co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry withdrew from school amidst cheating allegations before the season even began.

However, the play of the Ivy League’s leading scorer, Wes­ley Saunders, and freshman point guard, Siyani Chambers, propelled Harvard to a third-straight Ivy League champion­ship and set the stage for their shocking upset.

Now Casey and Curry are on their way back to Cam­bridge. They won’t be alone, either. Zena Edosomwan, a four-star recruit with big potential, has committed to the Crimson.

As the rise of Harvard bas­ketball continues, will a Great Alaska Shootout Champion­ship be the next accomplish­ment in its run of success?


February 23, 2013 Mark Hoffman

The Seawolf men’s basketball team escaped a packed Wells Fargo Center Saturday night with a dramatic, 71-69 victory over the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

February 12, 2013 Mark Hoffman

by Mark Hoffman

The Seawolf men’s basketball team has plenty of time to prepare for its Saturday showdown with in-state rival, UAF Nanooks. Coming off a road trip to Washington, the UAA men only have the Nanooks to prep for this week. The second meeting of the season tips off at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Seawolves captured a GNAC road win in the first meeting between the two squads, 65-60, back on Jan. 19. That victory pushed UAA’s advantage against UAF to 50 games over .500 in the all-time rivalry with a 71-21 edge.

The Seawolves hope to ride the hot hand of junior guard Kyle Fossman, who was named the GNAC’s Red Lion co-player of the week earlier this month. He tops the team in scoring this season with 15.8 points per game, good enough for fifth in the GNAC.

Fossman paces a Seawolves offense that leads the conference with 9.8 threes made per contest. The Seawolves accuracy from behind the arc is a result of patience and willingness to share the rock – they also lead the conference with 19.2 assists per game.

The Seawolves’ senior center, Liam Gibcus, also received accolades this month when he was named to the CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District team. The selection honors Gibcus for his academic achievements as well as his strong performance on the court. The 6-foot-10 Aussie owns a 3.80 GPA in civil engineering, averages 11.4 points per game, and leads the team with 6.3 rebounds per contest.

Gibcus, and his all-around game, was a big reason for the victory over the Nanooks in January. He finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists before fouling out in the five-point win.

The Seawolves were also propelled by the play of forward Abebe Demissie, who scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in that match up. The 6-foot-6 senior has been a spark off the bench all season for UAA and is second on the team in rebounds, a major statistical category for the Seawolves.

The play of the big men and the team’s ability to rebound has defined the season thus far – the Seawolves are 9-1 when out-rebounding opponents.

UAA’s second leading scorer, sophomore Teancum Stafford, was out with an injury in the first match up against the Nanooks. He will add his 13.1 points per game and 4.2 boards per game to the rivalry this time around.

The UAF Nanooks are enjoying a bit of resurgence this season, already improving on their 5-23 record from only a year ago. Second-year coach Mick Durham has the Nanooks on pace to finish over .500 for the first time since the 2007 season.

The Nanooks are led in scoring by senior guard, and Juneau-native, Dominique Brinson. He’s averaging 13.2 points per contest. Junior guard Pat Vouet averages 12.2 points per game for the Nanooks and 6-foot-7 forward Stefan Tica averages 9.9 points per game and leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game.

The Seawolves’ student fan base is also preparing for the great Alaskan rivalry to come to town. Many students and Seawolf fans are planning to tailgate and represent the Seawolves in their green and gold come Saturday.


The Seawolves will be back home Feb. 21 and 23 in bouts against Simon Fraser and Western Washington. Both games tip at 7:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.