FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NOV. 11, 2014
EMERALD COAST CLASSIC ANNOUNCES TEAMS COMPETING IN 2015 BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
LAS VEGAS, NEV. — Illinois, Iowa State, Virginia Tech and UAB headline the eight-team field for the 2015 Emerald Coast Classic, presented by Global Sports.
Chattanooga, Alabama State, Chicago State and Jacksonville State also are competing in the tournament.
First and second-round games will be played at on-campus sites Nov. 19 through Nov. 24, with the third round and championship round scheduled Thanksgiving weekend on Nov. 27-28 at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla.
“We have assembled another great field in the second year of this event, reinforcing our goal of making this one of the top preseason college basketball events annually,” said tournament director Maury Hanks, who is also chief executive officer for Global Sports.
Iowa State is ranked No. 14 in both the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches preseason polls – the highest ranking at the school since the 1996-97 team started that season ranked ninth.
The Cyclones finished 28-8 last season, winning the Big 12 Conference postseason tournament, while advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 where they were eliminated by eventual national champion Connecticut.
Illinois, under third-year coach John Groce, is projected by several publications to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2015. The Fighting Illini have 11 returning players from last year’s team which finished 20-15 while competing in the National Invitation Tournament.
Illinois won six of its final nine Big Ten Conference games last year and was listed as one of five college basketball teams on the rise for 2014-15 by USA TODAY.
UAB posted an 18-13 record last year, while ranking second in the NCAA in rebounding averaging 45.5 boards per game. Third-year coach Jerod Haase has nine players on the Blazers 12-man roster for 2014-15 who are either freshmen or sophomores.
Virginia Tech looks to revive its program in the Atlantic Coast Conference under first-year coach Buzz Williams, who comes from Marquette where he led the Eagles to NCAA Tournament appearances in five of the past six seasons.
Led by junior all-league Casey Jones, Chattanooga, under second-year coach Will Wade, was picked to finish second in both the 2014-15 Southern Conference preseason coaches and media polls.
Alabama State has all five starters back from last year’s team which posted an 18-13 record and the Hornets were selected to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference title in the media preseason poll. Chicago State competes in the Western Athletic Conference and Jacksonville State is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Coaches of the participating teams welcome the opportunity to play in Florida during the Thanksgiving break.
“We are excited about playing in the 2015 Emerald Coast Classic,” said Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. “It will be a terrific opportunity for our team to face great competition and our fan base to enjoy a first-class event in an ideal location over the Thanksgiving weekend.”
“We look forward to taking our team to the Emerald Coast Classic next season,” Illinois head coach John Groce said. “Maury (Hanks) and Global Sports always put on first-class tournaments and this event will allow us to face high-level competition in a terrific setting in Florida.”
“We are excited about playing in the Emerald Coast Classic next season,” Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. “This tournament provides an outstanding field and we are looking forward to competing in this event in such a desirable location on the panhandle of Florida. This is quickly become a popular destination for college basketball.”
“We are thrilled to play in the Emerald Coast Classic next November,” UAB head coach Jerod Haase said. “This event gives us another great opportunity to go against a very high level of competition early in the season. The panhandle of Florida and the Destin area is a great location for an early season tournament, and this event will certainly give our team a unique experience.”
The third round and championship finals will be played at The Arena on the campus Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla.
Global Sports has produced 25 multi team college basketball tournaments in the past seven years with four more coming during the 2014-15 season.