Field Set For the Sun Bowl Basketball
Tournament Returns After A One-Year
EL PASO, Texas (August 20, 2009) - Two
new faces and one old foe will head to El Paso in December for the 48th-edition
of the Sun Bowl Basketball Tournament. The nation's oldest, collegiate holiday
basketball tournament returns after one-year hiatus, and is set for Dec. 28-29
at the Don Haskins Center. Niagara University (Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference) Norfolk State University (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) the
United State Air Force Academy (Mountain West Conference) join host UTEP to
comprise this year's field.
"The Sun Bowl Association is thrilled to
bring back nearly five decades of tradition and memories," said SBA executive
director Bernie Olivas. "For 47 years, this tournament has been a mainstay of the
holiday season for El Paso."
UTEP will be making its 48th consecutive
appearance in the event, while this year will mark the first appearance by
Niagara and Norfolk State. Air Force will be participating in the storied
tournament for the second occasion.
The highlight of the tournament could be
a showdown in the finals with historical implications, as a match-up between
UTEP and Air Force would mark the 40th meeting all time between the former
Western Athletic Conference rivals. The Miners own a commanding 34-5 edge in
the all-time series, but the two squads haven't faced each other since the 2002
edition of the tournament.
Air Force is 1-0 against Niagara and 2-0
vs. Norfolk State, making it the lone school in the field to have played every
"After the one year hiatus, we have
heard from a lot fans how much they missed not having the tournament and were
very excited to hear that we are bringing back a Sun Bowl institution," said
Barry Kobren, tournament selection chairman. "We are thrilled with the quality
of the field this year, bringing back and old WAC rival in Air Force, a top 50
team in the country in Niagara and up and coming team like Norfolk State."
Heading into this year, 89 teams have
participated in the tournament which has produced 18 different tournament
champions. The homestanding Miners have claimed 27 crowns, including a 79-73
defeat of Wyoming in the 2007 title game. Over the history of the Sun
Bowl Basketball Tournament, 69 teams have gone on to post-season play in the
same season that they participated in the tournament.
The Sun Bowl Basketball Tournament has
featured some of the game's top coaches over the years - Gene Bartow, Bobby
Cremins, Don Haskins, Lon Kruger, Gene Keady, Bobby Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Guy Lewis, Phil Martelli, Rollie
Massimino, Jim O'Brien, Lute Olson, Wimp Sanderson, Charlie Spoonhauer, John
Thompson III, Gary Waters and Tex Winter.
It has also featured some of the
nation's top collegiate players - Nate Archibald (UTEP), Earl Boykins (Eastern
Michigan), Dana Barros (Boston College), Adrian Caldwell (Lamar), Antonio Davis
(UTEP), JoJo English (South Carolina), Mike Evans (Kansas State), Brandon Ewing
(Wyoming), Jim Farmer (Alabama), Greg Foster (UTEP), Walt Frazier (Southern
Illinois), Jeff Green (Georgetown), Tim Hardaway (UTEP), Roy Hibbert
(Georgetown), Stefon Jackson (UTEP), Tim McCormick (Michigan), Chuck Person
(Auburn), Glenn Robinson (Purdue), Brandon Wolfram (UTEP) and Sharone Wright
The Niagara University Purple Eagles
(26-9, 14-4) are coached by 11th-year
head coach Joe Mihalich, who led the squad to its best record since 1922. The
Purple Eagles, who finished 49th in the final Ratings Performance Index (RPI)
last season, return four of five starters. Niagara finished second in the
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and advanced to the finals of the conference
tournament. The Purple Eagles have appeared in the postseason in four of the
last five years, making NCAA Tournament appearances in 2005 and 2007 and played
in the NIT in 2004 and 2008. Niagara returns four of its top five scorers from
last year, led by 5-11 senior guard Tyrone Lewis (16.2 points per game).
The United State Air Force Academy
Falcons (10-21, 0-16) are led by
fourth-year head coach Jeff Reynolds and have appeared in the post season in
two of the last four years. Air Force hopes to rebound from a
disappointing season and return to the form that saw the Falcons become one of
the winningest teams in the Mountain West Conference this decade.
Previous to last season, Air Force had strung together 5 consecutive
winning seasons and was ranked as high as No. 14 in the country in 2007.
Air Force last appeared in the Sun Bowl Tournament in 2002.
The Norfolk State University Spartans
(13-18, 9-7) are coached by
third-year head coach Anthony Evans, who paced the squad to the Mid-Eastern
Athletic Conference Tournament finals last season. The Spartans, who struggled
to a 1-10 start last season, closed out the year with a 12-8 mark and a third
place finish in the MEAC. Norfolk State's up-tempo offense is paced by 6-0
junior guard Michael Deloach, who averaged 21.5 points per game last season.
Joining Deloach in the backcourt is 6-0 junior guard Aleek Pauline, who chipped
in 6.5 points and 3.8 assists last season.
The UTEP Miners (23-14, 10-6) are led by fourth-year head coach Tony Barbee, who
led the Miners to the College Basketball Invitational Finals last season. The
Miners return three starters and seven letterwinners from last season after a fourth
place finish in Conference USA. The trio of returning starters are junior
guards Randy Culpepper (17.5 ppg), Julyan Stone (5.6 ppg and 6.4 apg) and
sophomore forward Arnett Moultrie (8.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg). UTEP has reached the
postseason in four of the last six years.
Beginning Dec. 1, tournament tickets
will be available at the Sun Bowl Association office at (915-533-4416 or
800-915-BOWL), the UTEP Ticket Center (915-747-5234) and TicketMaster outlets.
Tournament tickets can be reserved now by calling the Sun Bowl Association
office. Tournament tickets are also included in UTEP season ticket packages.
Ticket prices are as
follows: Four-Game, Two-Night Package:
$40 (rows 1-34) and $20 (rows 35-39);
* $20 UTEP students, plus one guest
Two-Game, One-Night Package (Day of Game Only):
$22 (rows 1-34) and $12 (rows 35-39),
* $12 UTEP students, plus one guest
* - Must purchase at the UTEP Ticket Center Only