For the second consecutive year, UVI's Buccaneers men's basketball squad will take their turn on the court at the USVI Paradise Jam basketball tournament. Their matchup against Pontificia Universidad Católica of Puerto Rico is slated for 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20. Paradise Jam - in its 11th year - is the annual tourney that brings top NCAA Division I teams to play at UVI's Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas.
The Bucs are hoping for a repeat of their inaugural Paradise Jam performance in 2009, when they downed LAI rival UPR-Metropolitan 73-70 in the closing seconds of an exciting matchup. UVI plays in the Beitia Division of LAI (Puerto Rico's 21-team Liga Atlética Interuniversitaria). Católica plays in the LAI's Manuel Division.
Head Coach Sean Georges' Buccaneers have already notched a win, their first against an NCAA member school on the mainland, during a three-game road trip to the Washington, D.C. area earlier this month. The squad downed the Gaucher College Gophers 66-59 on Nov. 6.
Georges said Católica, which typically ranks in the top five of their LAI division, "normally plays a very high tempo game. This game will give us a chance to test our speed and be a good test for our defense trying to slow down their three-point attack." The Bucs have faced Católica twice in post-season, inter-division play during their first years in the LAI league. Those games were all played in Puerto Rico. This will be the first time the Bucs have hosted Católica, Georges said.
"Last year we had a good (fan) turnout," the coach added. "We hope the community comes out and supports us. It should be something they will really enjoy."
While Saturday's starting five has not been finalized, Georges said he's looking toward using seniors Nahshon Jeffers and Alvaro DeLugo at the guard posts, with 6'9" freshman Collin Pfingst at center, and sophomore Wilson Ferrence and junior transfer Khalid Gerard in the forward positions.
UVI's regular LAI season begins early in February of 2011. Georges said the Bucs, coming off an 8-8 season (4-1 at home), will be playing home games against some of their division's top squads, including the LAI's overall defending champions UPR Humacao. "It's good to have the tough teams at home," Georges added. "Our fans really help to energize the guys." (Click here for a Bucs team roster)
Buccaneer Treasures to Perform
Fans will also be treated to a performance by the Buccaneer Treasures - UVI's 18-member varsity dance team - during halftime of the Bucs-Católica game.
The team is lead by Coach Aneka Francis. Cubie George is the dance instructor. The squad includes: Shenise Baker (captain), Sharifah Cottle-Matthew, Deidra Dake, Porchia Farrington, Chanelle George, Carice Glasgow, Raydiance Granger, Chelsea Herman, Thia Homer, Davida Huggins, Nia Jackson, Naiema Jones, Roniqua Joseph, Tamie Metellus, Jeniah Norris, Raven Phillip, Britanny Robinson and Chawnique Schjang.
Coach Francis said the squad has plans to perform at more home games this season. She also said they are looking forward to returning to the Justas athletic competition next April in Puerto Rico.
Paradise Jam Matchups
The Paradise Jam 2010 tourney features 16 teams - eight men's and eight women's squads - playing over nine days. The men's tourney opens Friday, Nov. 19, with the championship game slated for 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 22. The women's tourney runs from Nov. 25 to 27.
The men's 2010 lineup includes Alabama, Clemson, Iowa, Long Beach State, Old Dominion, Seton Hall, Saint Peters and Xavier. The women's field, in two divisions, includes Iowa State, TCU, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Missouri and Tennessee. Team rosters, brackets and other details are available from the Basketball Travelers' web site: www.paradisejam.com.
Men's tournament games on Sunday, Nov. 21, and the consolation and championship games on Monday, Nov. 22, will be televised live on Fox College Sports and Fox Sports Net.
The tournament is organized by Basketball Travelers, Inc. and supported by the U.S. Department of Tourism and a host of local businesses.
Paradise Jam - V.I. Ticket Prices at the Door
V.I. Adult Resident - $15 (with local ID)
V.I. Senior Citizen - $10 (65+)
V.I. Child-Student - $5 (ages 5-18 and UVI Student)
Non-V.I. Resident - $35