College sports briefs: UA and Grand Canyon to play in hoops double-header in Phoenix
Phoenix will play host to projected No. 1 ranked Arizona basketball and upcoming program Grand Canyon in a men’s college basketball double-header at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
UA will face Texas A & M and Grand Canyon St. John’s on Tuesday December 5 in the Valley of the Sun Shootout at the Phoenix Sun’s arena.
“The collective excitement around the Arizona and Grand Canyon programs is tremendous heading into next season. With each playing a premier opponent in Phoenix, the arena will certainly have a March Madness-feel on that night,” said Brooks Downing, president of bd Global, the event promoter in a press release.
Arizona is a choice by many to be the preseason No. 1 team after adding highly ranked incoming freshmen Deandre Ayton and Emmanuel Akot to a team that won the Pac-12 championship last year. The Wildcats return Allonzo Trier (17.2 ppg) and Rawle Alkins (10.9 ppg).
Last year UA beat Texas A & M 67-63 in the Lone star state. The Aggies return four starters and 10 total players which was 82.3 percent of the team’s scoring.
“We are very excited to be a part of this event again this season,” said Arizona coach Sean Miller. “It’s a very competitive field of teams playing in a great environment at Talking Stick Resort Arena. As it was last season, the game with Texas A & M will be a marquee non-conference game against an excellent opponent. The game will also be a tremendous experience for us to be able to play in front of our fans and alumni in the Phoenix area.”
Grand Canyon has transitioned to the Division I level and is eligible for the Big Dance this season. Former Sun Dan Majerle leads the Lopes as their head coach.
GCU has had back-to-back 20-win season and finished second in the WAC last year.
Another former NBA star in Chris Mullin leads St. John’s. The Red Storm return four starters from last year, including leading scorer Shamorie Ponds (17.4 ppg).
“We are very excited for the opportunity to play St. John’s at Talking Stick Resort Arena,” said Majerle. “Chris Mullin and I go way back and I look forward to seeing our two teams compete as a part of this event. It will be a great experience for our kids to play where the Suns play, and it will be special for me as I have so many great memories in that building.”
Tickets are $30 to $300 (courtside seating) and are on sale at www.talkingstickresortarena.com, 800-745-3000 or at the arena.
More information can be found at www.valleyofthesunshootout.com.
Big Sky launches anti sexual violence initiative
On Friday the Big Sky Conference announced that its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee created a blueprint for a conference-wide initiative aimed at raising awareness and educating about sexual violence on its campuses.
The announcement came after the SAAC’s annual business meeting at Southern Utah.
The student athletes were chosen by each school and cleaned, landscaped and painted the parking lot at a local women’s crisis center before the meeting.
The student athletes saw presentations from Ted Bunch and Brenda Tracy. Bunch co founded A Call To Men, an organization that promotes “a healthy and respectful manhood and shift attitudes and behaviors that devalue women, girls and other marginalized groups.”
Tracy is a nurse, activist, and survivor of campus rape.
“First off, I am extremely proud of the Big Sky Conference,” Tracy said in a press reelase. “There is not another athletic conference out there whose athletes have taken on a conference-wide initiative to campaign against sexual assault and violence, at least not in this specific way. The fact that they would take on my campaign is such a huge honor for me. To see these young SAAC members take ahold of this campaign and turn it into something that is going to save lives is really amazing.”
Big Sky SAAC President and NAU soccer alum Nicole Sherwin said she is excited with the amount of influence that the SAAC will have.
“It’s exciting because our student-athletes are taking the initiative,” Sherwin said. “We’re seeing what we envision actually take place and it’s exciting to be listened to on these issues. It’s great that the SAAC Cup is able to evolve to something that we are more and more passionate about with each coming year.”
ASU, UA football picked to finish fifth and sixth in Pac-12 South
FBS college football fans in Arizona are in for a long season according to the Pac-12 media poll.
The Pac-12 media picked Arizona State and Arizona to finish last and second to last in the South Division in their poll released Wednesday. UA (61) received the 11th most points in the voting and ASU (109) the ninth.
The poll picked USC to win the league for the 33rd time in school history. The Trojans received 309 points and 49 first place votes, the same as defending champion Washington. USC got 28 Pac-12 title game champion votes, compared to the Huskies’ 22.
Utah, then UCLA and Colorado were picked to finish behind USC in the South. Every team in the South except UA and ASU received at least one first place vote.
The media has correctly selected the conference champion 29 out of 56 times but only twice in the last 10 polls.
Arizona opens the season on Saturday Sept. 2 when they host Northern Arizona at home. ASU’s first game is on Thursday Aug. 31 when they host New Mexico State.
NAU was picked to finish third in the Big Sky by the media and coaches.