Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Diamond Head Classic week is here

Christmas week in Hawai’i also means Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic week.

Eight NCAA Division I teams – George Washington, Hawai’i, Iona, Pepperdine, Seattle, SMU, Utah State and Washington State – will combine to play 12 games in three days at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center to determine a tournament champion on Christmas Day. Four games per day will be played on December 22, 23 and 25, and every game will be televised on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. It is a most wonderful time of the year for college basketball fans.

This year’s field does not have any teams currently ranked in the Top 25 polls, but there are multiple story angles worth following. Among them:

• Utah State is 9-1, with its only blemish coming on Monday night in a 75-72 upset loss to Weber State. Prior to this week, USU was one of only five remaining undefeated teams in NCAA-I and was ranked No. 10 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), which is used to determine selection and seedings for the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies have since plummeted to No. 34 in the NET rankings, but are still the highest-rated team in the DHC field.

• Rick Pitino, now the head coach at Iona, is making a coaching appearance at a University of Hawai’i basketball related event for the first time in more than 46 years. Prior to coaching NCAA National Championship teams at both Kentucky (1996) and Louisville (2013), Pitino started his Hall of Fame coaching career at Hawai’i as a graduate assistant in 1974. He was UH’s interim head coach at the end of the 1975-76 season, after other coaches were dismissed due to an NCAA investigation. Iona, which is 7-3, will face SMU in the tournament’s opening game at 10:00 a.m. on December 22.

• The Diamond Head Classic is looking to crown a tournament champion for the first time since 2019, when Houston won it. The entire 2020 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then in 2021, the championship game between Stanford and Vanderbilt was canceled due to COVID-19 issues.

• George Washington is the only team in this year’s field that previously won a DHC championship. The Colonials upset No. 11 Wichita State in the 2014 title game.

• This year’s DHC field features four first-time participants – Iona, Pepperdine, Seattle and Utah State.

• Hawai’i has been the host team since the DHC started in 2009 and has yet to reach the championship game. Could this be the year? The Rainbow Warriors (6-3) face Pepperdine (6-5) in the opening round, December 22 at 6:00 p.m.

• Washington State is making its third DHC appearance – the most by any team other than Hawai’i. The Cougars placed second in 2010 and seventh in 2015.

• Pepperdine’s Maxwell Lewis is projected as a first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-7 sophomore forward is averaging 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

• Washington State sophomore forward/center Mouhamed Gueye is also considered a NBA Draft prospect (potential second round pick). Gueye, who is 6-11, is originally from Senegal.

• George Washington senior guard James Bishop IV currently ranks seventh in NCAA-I for scoring at 22.2 points per game. He scored 44 points in a loss to Hofstra on November 14. He is a left-handed shooter who can score from anywhere on the court.

• Seattle junior guard Cameron Tyson is averaging 19.9 points per game and ranks fourth in NCAA-I for 3-pointers made with 4.1 per game.

• Utah State junior guard Steven Ashworth is averaging 18.2 points per game and ranks fifth in NCAA-I for 3-pointers made with 4.0 per game, and is fourth in NCAA-I for 3-point percentage at .541.

• Three teams in the field are among the top 25 in the nation for 3-pointers made – Utah State is fifth with 11.5 per game, Seattle is 11th with 10.4 per game, and Pepperdine is 22nd with 9.9 per game.

• Utah State leads all of NCAA-I in 3-point shooting percentage at .447.

• Hawai’i’s defense ranks third in NCAA-I for 3-pointers allowed at 4.6 per game.

When: December 22, 23 and 25 (schedule below)
Where: SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: Visit https://espnevents.com/hawaiian-airlines-diamond-head-classic/tickets/ for more information.
TV: All games will be on either ESPN2 or ESPNU

Thursday, December 22
10:00 a.m. – Iona vs. SMU
12:00 p.m. – Seattle vs. Utah State
4:00 p.m. – George Washington vs. Washington State
6:00 p.m. – Pepperdine vs. Hawai’i

Friday, December 23
11:30 a.m. – Consolation game 1
2:00 p.m.  – Semifinal game 1
5:00 p.m. – Pepperdine vs. TBA
7:00 p.m. – Hawai’i vs. TBA

Sunday, December 25
8:30 a.m. – 7th Place or 5th Place Game
10:30 a.m. – 7th Place or 5th Place Game
1:30 p.m. – 3rd Place Game
3:30 p.m. – Championship Game

Leave a Response

Login or fill in the fields below to comment. (New user? Register)