Diamond Head field nearly complete


POSTED: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Organizers have one spot left and expect to announce the eight-team basketball field for the inaugural Diamond Head Classic sometime before the NCAA men's Final Four, ESPN Regional Television senior vice president Pete Derzis said yesterday.

“;We'll see if we can get this thing buttoned up hopefully before the Final Four (on April 4),”; Derzis said. “;We're not 100 percent — we've got seven of the eight teams under contract. We're hoping to get the eighth team within days. We'll then announce in a coordinated effort with the schools.”;

USC (Pac-10), Nevada-Las Vegas (Mountain West) and College of Charleston (Southern) have been confirmed as participants alongside host Hawaii, but the other four participants in the ERT-owned-and-operated tourney remain unnamed.

The Diamond Head Classic takes the place of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic, which completed its 45th running in December. The latter will be reformatted into a four-team tournament to be played near the start of the 2009-10 season.

Ten of the new tourney's 12 games, played Dec. 22, 23 and 25, are slated for the ESPN family of networks.

Derzis said scheduling competition is stiff, as many teams are already under contract for an eight-team exempted tournament three or even four years down the line — and they can only play one per year under NCAA rules. But he is pleased at the feedback he's received.

“;The response thus far has been very promising, very favorable,”; Derzis said. “;We're working on ... three and four years (out) in developing a field. We're very optimistic that things are headed in the right direction.”;

ERT operates four other tournaments — the 76 Classic (Anaheim, Calif.), the Charleston (S.C.) Classic, the Old Spice Classic (Orlando, Fla.) and the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off.