Nov. 18, 2005Paradise Jam is now the largest college basketball tournament in the U.S., according to Peter Sauer, athletic director at the University of the Virgin Islands. Sauer said this year will be no exception, as UVI has drawn its biggest selection of talent to date14 top-seated Division I teams from colleges across the mainland.
Currently in its sixth year, the games are brought to the territory through the efforts of UVI and Basketball Travelers Inc, a company dedicated to arranging "unique tours and tournaments for college and high school basketball teams," according to its Web site. Events are held at UVI's Sports and Fitness Center, with practices at the Mark C. Marin Center at Antilles School. Six men's teams and eight women's teams will be participating, with play beginning Nov. 18 and continuing through Nov. 24.
Games will be broadcast by a number of television and radio stations across the mainland, Sauer said, with crews from media outlets such as Fox Sports traveling to the territory to broadcast the events. NBA and WNBA scouts will also be on island looking at potential recruits in action.
The men's tournament will begin first, with games scheduled Friday through Monday evening. Sauer said three of the six teams participating have already faced off in other 2005 NCAA Tournament play.
According to UVI's website, the Wisconsin Badgers will be headlining the event, coming off last season as the 10th best college team in the nation. While the team did lose five senior players at the end of the season, they are expecting leadership from forward Alando Tucker and guard Kammon Taylor, both juniors, as well as help from some of the nation's top-25 freshman recruits.
NCAA tourney participants Old Dominion and Eastern Kentucky will join Wisconsin on the court. Old Dominion, Sauer said, is currently one of the strongest in the league, after setting a record this year for the most wins in their school's history. Four out of five of the team's starters will return for the Paradise Jam, including Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, Alex Loughton, a center now in his senior year.
The Eastern Kentucky Colonels will also be bringing four senior players, including offensive starters Matt Witt and guard Zach Inglesas well as new coach Jeff Neubauer.
Fordham, Norfolk State and Georgia complete the six-team men's lineup.
"The tournament field will be split into two brackets of three teams each. The tournament begins with three days of pool play within the divisions on Nov. 18-20, with each team playing two games. The order of finish within the divisions determines placement for the final day of games on Nov. 21," according to the Basketball Travelers Web site.
In the St. Thomas bracket, Wisconsin, Eastern Kentucky and Norfolk State will compete against each other, while the St. John bracket includes Old Dominion, Fordham, and Georgia.
The eight women's teams will also be operating under the same bracket and game system. Beginning on Nov. 24 and ending on Nov. 26, the competition will feature four teams who met in last season's NCAA Tournament–Tennessee, Michigan State, Virginia, and Minnesota.
Sauer said Michigan State is the big competitor in the women's tourney, coming off a record-breaking 33-win 2004-05 season and reaching the programs first ever final four. Players Lindsay Bowen and Liz Shimek, both of whom accepted invitations to the USA Women's Basketball national team trials, will lead this season, according to the Travelers site.
Tennessee's Lady Vols lost four seniors from their 2004-2005 roster, but return this year with senior guard Shanna Zolman, sophomore center Nicky Anosike, and sophomore guard Alexis Hornbuckle.
The University of Maryland Terrapins return with four starters this year after finishing last season 22-10. Big players include junior guard Shay Doron, and sophomore center Crystal Langhorne.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs will also be seen at the Paradise Jam. The team received national ranking status for the first time last season.
Also competing for the women's teams are the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the University of Virginia Cavaliers, Alabama's Crimson Tide, and the University of Nevada.
"It's really going to be some great basketball," Sauer said. "All these teams are really looking good this year."
Men's tournament games are as follows:
St. John Division
Game 1 Nov. 18, 7 p.m.Georgia vs. Old Dominion
Game 2Nov. 19, 7 p.m.Old Dominion vs. Fordham
Game 3Nov. 20, 7 p.m.Fordham vs. Georgia
St. Thomas Division
Game 1Nov. 18, 9:30 p.m.Norfolk State vs. Wisconsin
Game 2Nov. 19, 9:30 p.m.Wisconsin vs. Eastern Kentucky
Game 3Nov. 20, 9:30 p.m.Eastern Kentucky vs. Norfolk State
Consolation 5th Place Game, Nov. 21, 4:30 p.m. The third place St. Thomas Division team vs. third place St. John Division team.
Consolation 3rd Place Game, Nov. 21, 7 p.m. The second place St. Thomas Division team vs. second place St. John Division team
Championship GameNov. 21 9:30 p.m. The first place St. Thomas Division team vs. first place St. John Division team
Women's tournament games are as follows:
St. John Division
Game 1: Nov. 24, 7 p.m.Maryland vs. Gonzaga
Game 2: Nov. 24, 9:30 p.m.Tennessee v. Michigan State
Game 3: Nov. 25, 7 p.m.Michigan State vs. Maryland
Game 4: Nov. 25, 9:30 p.m.Gonzaga vs. Tennessee
Game 5: Nov. 26, 7 p.m.Michigan State vs. Gonzaga
Game 6: Nov. 26, 9:30 p.m.Tennessee vs. Maryland
St. Thomas Division
Game 1: Nov. 25, 2 p.m.Alabama vs. Virginia
Game 2: Nov. 25, 4:30 p.m.Nevada vs. Minnesota
Consolation Game: Nov. 26, 2 p.m.
Championship Game: Nov. 26, 4:30 p.m.
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