By Staff Report.
ESPN Regional Television, Inc., (ERT) a subsidiary of ESPN, announced today that Auburn of the Southeastern Conference and Southern Illinois of the Missouri Valley Conference will round out the field for the 2011 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. In addition, Kansas State will replace fellow Big 12 member Texas A&M in the 2011 tournament field with the Aggies appearing in the 2013 tournament.
The trio of teams join tournament host school Hawai’i, along with Clemson, Long Beach State, Xavier and UTEP. Four of the eight teams reached the NCAA Championship in 2010. Meanwhile, six of the eight are poised for postseason berths this season with a pair of squads leading their respective conferences.
“The addition of the Big 12’s Kansas State, the SEC’s Auburn and a Southern Illinois team that has been in the NCAA Tournament six of the last nine years, adds to an already talented field,” said David Matlin, executive director of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. “The 2011 edition of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic promises to be an exciting three days of basketball.”
The 2011 field includes a mix of perennial powers and up-and-coming teams:
- Auburn is under the direction of first-year head coach Tony Barbee who led 2011 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic participant UTEP to 26 wins last year. His rebuilding project at Auburn boasts the addition of three potential starters in 2011-12 who are redshirting this season, including 2010 leading scorer Frankie Sullivan, a pair of talented Division I transfers and three highly-touted signees.
- Clemson is coming off four straight 20-win seasons and three consecutive trips to the NCAA Championship. The Tigers have advanced to the postseason six straight seasons and are currently 18-9 overall and 7-6 in the Atlantic Coast Conference under first-year head coach Brad Brownell.
- Hawai’i will again serve as the tournament host after finishing fifth in the 2010 Diamond Head Classic. The Rainbow Warriors are under the direction of first-year head coach Gib Arnold <http://hawaii-live.internetconsult.com/coaches.aspx?rc=439> , who reeled in a recruiting class ranked as high as seventh in the nation. The Rainbow Warriors are currently 15-10 overall and have already achieved its highest win total in four seasons.
- Kansas State, ranked No. 3 in the 2010-11 preseason poll, owns an 18-9 record, including a recent victory over top-ranked Kansas. The Wildcats enjoyed a historic 2009-10 season, posting a school-record 29 wins and advancing all the way to the NCAA Elite Eight before falling to eventual NCAA runner-up and 2010 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic Champion Butler.
- Long Beach State finished one win shy of qualifying for the 2010 NCAA Tournament, advancing to the Big West Conference Tournament championship game. In 2009-10, The Beach won 17 games despite facing the toughest non-conference schedule in the country. This season, Long Beach State stands at 17-10 and with an 11-2 league mark is closing in on its first Big West Conference title in four years.
- Southern Illinois has advanced to the postseason in seven of the last nine seasons, including a string six straight NCAA Championship appearances. The Salukis look for a return to greatness in the Missouri Valley Conference under seventh-year head coach Chris Lowery.
- With a 20-6 mark, Xavier has recorded its sixth straight 20-win season and 14th such season in the last 15 years. Xavier has made nine NCAA Championship appearances in the last 10 years, including a pair of Elite Eight appearances. The Musketeers are currently ranked No. 25 in the nation and sit alone in first place at 11-1 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
- UTEP has produced a 20-7 record thus far this season under first-year head coach Tim Floyd. This year’s 20-win squad comes off the heels of a banner 2009-10 season in which the Miners posted a 26-7 record, blitzed through Conference USA play with a 15-1 mark and earned rankings in both top 25 polls for the first time in 18 years.
The Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, an eight-team men’s college basketball tournament, will feature 12 games through three days – Dec. 22, 23 and 25 at Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawai’i. The Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl, also owned by ESPN Regional Television, will be played Dec 24.
Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through a bracket-tournament format. The two teams that remain undefeated throughout will face off in a championship match on Christmas day, Dec. 25.
Additional information can be found on the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic’s official Web site: http://www.DiamondHeadClassic.com.
About Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian is the nation’s highest-ranked carrier for service quality and performance in the 20th annual Airline Quality Rating study, having earned that distinction in three of the past four years. Hawaiian has also led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past seven years (2004-2010) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Zagat have all ranked Hawaiian the top domestic airline offering flights to Hawaii.
Now in its 82nd year of continuous service in Hawaii, Hawaiian is the largest provider of passenger air service to Hawaii from the state’s primary visitor markets on the U.S. mainland.
Hawaiian offers nonstop service to Hawaii from more U.S. gateway cities (10) than any other airline, as well as service to South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, American Samoa, and Tahiti. Hawaiian also provides approximately 150 daily jet flights between the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. is a subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HA). Additional information is available at HawaiianAirlines.com.
ESPN Regional Television/Event Ownership
The nation’s largest syndicator of collegiate sports programming, ESPN Regional Television (ERT) annually produces more than 1,000 telecasts of sporting events. Programming includes football, basketball, NCAA events, golf and NHRA events accounting for more than 2,200 live and/or original hours of programming. In addition to event ownership, ERT is the production headquarters for ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network; syndication rights-holder and producer of national, regional and local shows for college conferences (e.g. – SEC, BIG EAST, Big 12, Mid-American, WAC).
ESPN Regional Television markets and/or owns several sporting events, including collegiate football events: the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg; Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas); MAACO Bowl Las Vegas; New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Papajohns.com Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.); Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Texas Bowl (Houston); the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney (Orlando, Fla.); and The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards; collegiate basketball events: the 76 Classic (Anaheim, Calif.); Cancun Governor’s Cup; Charleston Classic (S.C.); SEC/BIG EAST Invitational; Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Old Spice Classic (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Puerto Rico Tipoff (San Juan); All-College Basketball Classic (Oklahoma City) and BracketBusters; as well as the new ESPNU Warrior Classic (Lacrosse) and the ESPN National Golf Challenge presented by Callaway. For more information, visit ESPNPlus.com.