FAIRBANKS—Four teams in the rebuilding process will clash in the GCI Alaska Invitational men’s college basketball tournament this weekend at the Patty Center.
The Oklahoma Panhandle State Aggies, Colorado Christian Cougars, Cal State Monterey Bay Otters and the host Alaska Nanooks will lock horns for the next three days in the round-robin tournament at the Patty Center.
The tournament kicks off at 5:15 p.m. today with the Aggies taking on the Cougars, followed by the game between the Otters and Nanooks at about 7:30.
Game times will be earlier Friday and Saturday to avoid conflict with the Nanooks’ Central Collegiate Hockey Association games against Western Michigan, scheduled for 7:35 each night at the Carlson Center.
Friday’s Invitational schedule calls for Cal State Monterey Bay to play Colorado Christian at 3 p.m. and Alaska will host Oklahoma Panhandle at 5:15 p.m.
Saturday, Oklahoma Panhandle and Monterey Bay meet at 3 p.m. and Alaska plays Colorado Christian at 5:15.
While none of the teams had impressive records a year ago, they all seem to be headed in the same direction in 2012-13, based on the first weekend’s outcomes.
“These are four programs that didn’t have a lot of success last year, but all four had good off-seasons,” Alaska coach Mick Durham said Wednesday night. “These are four teams on the rise and I think you will see some pretty close basketball games this weekend.
“I’m not sure if any of these teams will be able to win three in a row because they are all pretty even,” Durham added.
Oklahoma Panhandle and Monterey Bay both won games handily to open the season, while the Nanooks and Colorado Christian split games at the AT&T Jamboree last weekend in Anchorage.
Oklahoma State Panhandle opened its season with a 143-63 home win against Barclays College of the National Christian College Athletic Association. Monterey Bay raced to a 104-52 win against Pacific.
Colorado Christian lost to Alaska Anchorage 66-56 on the opening night of the jamboree, but came back to score a 72-63 win over the Nanooks Saturday afternoon.
The Nanooks opened the season with an 80-76 overtime win against Colorado School of Mines, then lost to Colorado Christian.
Durham said he saw some good things during the Nanooks first two games in Anchorage.
“I thought we defended and rebounded well, compared to what I saw a year ago at this time,” he said. “We’ve go a couple of guys who are more physical and can go get rebounds.”
The Nanooks have some work to do at the other end of the court.
“We need to come together offensively,” Durham said. “It was our first time playing together as a team and we have to learn to share the ball better.”
Durham said the Nanooks need to take ownership of the Patty Center, something they weren’t able to do a year ago.
“We couldn’t finish at home last year,” he said. “We need to see some success and take ownership of our home court. We need to let people know we’re going to be tough to beat on our home court.”
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.