Fewer teams in this year’s Shootout

This year at the Great Alaska Shootout there will only be six teams competing, instead of the traditional eight.

Teams traveling to Alaska from the Lower-48 will be cut due to a vast addition of exempt, preseason tournaments.

“There are a glut of exempted events, which really made the scheduling difficult,” Tim McDiffett, Associate Director of Athletics, said.

A ballooning number of preseason tournaments similar to the Shootout began to appear in 2008, and greatly reduced the number of high-profile teams willing to come play at 30-year-old Alaska tournament, which has been a staple of Alaska basketball fans since its creation.

Since 2004, the number of exempt tournaments has nearly tripled from 28 to 82, reported the Anchorage Daily News.

The Great Alaskan Shootout qualifies as an exempted event, which means that the entire tournament only counts as one game for the teams competing. Twenty-eight games is the limit for teams in one year. The Great Alaskan Shootout allows players to participate in more games without putting them over the brink of the allowed number of games.

For the past 31 years there have been eight men’s teams in the Shootout. This year there will be six men’s teams competing in the shootout and four women’s teams.

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“It is due to the market conditions,” Steve Cobb, Director of Athletics, said. “We could not sign eight teams this year.”

In the past, the teams would compete in a regularly bracketed tournament. This guaranteed each team three games. The women’s teams will follow a regular bracket this year but the men will compete in Olympic format. The teams still play a minimum of three games, however they will be pooled into two groups for the first three days of the Shootout. For this pool play the teams will know whom they are playing. After the first three days, the teams will play the team who performed as well as they did in the other pool.

This year the men’s teams competing in Pool A will include UAA, Nicholls State and Washington State. In Pool B will be Houston, Oklahoma and San Diego.

In 2010 more teams are expected to play at the Shootout.

“We already have eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams booked for next year,” McDiffett said.