I tuned into FSN last night to watch a little college basketball. Usually the team I would be watching would be the Washington Huskies but last night it was Seattle University. There were a number of things that made the game interesting for me. First of all former UW assistant Cameron Dollar was making his home debut as a division one head coach. Second of all I wanted to see if the hype about almost Husky Charles Garcia was true. Finally Seattle U honored 29 former basketball greats last night with the greatest being hall of famer Elgin Baylor.
The game on the court didn't dissapoint. Seattle U shook off the early butterflies and raced out to a ten point half time lead. Turnovers, missed free throws, and some poor shot selection allowed Fresno State back in the game in the second half. With two minutes left my wife turned to me and said Seattle is going to lose. The Redhawks ignored her and switched into rally mode. With some patented Cameron Dollar pressure defense they were able to pull out a one point victory in this one.
Charles Garcia is as good as advertised. He is a 6'10 athlete with the ball handling skills of a guard. He led the team with 21 points and 12 rebounds. The only real flaw he showed last night was at the free throw line were he was only 10 of 18. Garcia is going to get a lot better under the tutelage of Cameron Dollar. He will become stronger presence inside and a better defender over time. His outside game is pretty smooth and he knocked down an NBA three that brought the crowd to their feet.
The Redhawks overall are a team in transistion made up of young division one recruits and some division two veterans. Garcia obviously elevates the performance of this team but I also saw some decent play out of Aaron Broussard and Cervante Burrell. It seems that Dollar has a decent foundation to build his program on.
The Redhawks who are in their first season of division one since 1980 play an independent schedule with some serious advantages over the average independent. They play their home games in 17,100 seat Key Arena which looked incredible for last nights debut in Redhawk colors and they have great history in the sport that goes back 60 years.
That history was on display last night with Elgin Baylor and twenty eight other Seattle U. greats on hand who were honored at halftime for their contributions to the program. Baylor was also honored by the City of Seattle with Elgin Baylor Day and the dedication of Elgin Baylor Court at Key Arena. Baylor who hasn't been close to the program in 50 years was visibly moved by the honor.
Elgin has had a very tough year. The 74 year old hall of famer was let go by the LA Clippers after 22 years of being the franchise figurehead. The parting wasn't amicable and Baylor filed suit against the franchise. Baylor described himself recently as being a little lost after the turmoil.
Last night was the opportunity for him to go back to where it all started in the late 1950's to be honored by the University and community. Baylor who describes himself as more of an LA type of guy after living there since 1959 doesn't visit often. His only prior appearances in Seattle were as a member of the LA Lakers when they used to play the Sonics.
Now that Baylor is no longer with the Clippers look for his involvement to increase a bit in promoting his alma maters return to division one. Every legend needs a hobby in his retirement and every school needs the involvment of its biggest legend. Look for Elgin to visit a little more often.