I’m a die-hard fan of Seattle U basketball because…

Redhawks Bball is in me

The pending end of spring sports in the NCAA means that the Seattle University’s tenure as an independent Division I program is quickly coming to a close. When the students return for class in August, the Redhawks will be a proud member of the Western Athletic Conference.

If you are new to the Northwest sports scene or are just simply looking for a new team to fly with, NorthWest SportsBeat would like to suggest the Seattle University Redhawks basketball program.

 A Program with Tradition

Seattle University has tradition that other mid-majors in this region don’t have for two reasons. First, the men’s basketball team arguably produced the best professional basketball player to ever come out of the Pacific Northwest in NBA Hall of Famer and former Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Elgin Baylor.

Second, the basketball program thrived in the 1950’s and 1960’s as they secured births in both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT Tournament, which was considered by many basketball historians to have been more prestigious than its counterpart during the early 1950’s. In 1958, Seattle University reached the NCAA title game. The only other school located in the region to have appeared in a title game sooner than Seattle was the University of Oregon in 1939.

Baylor with Seattle U

Elgin Baylor, the original Seattle Reignman. (image

An Opportunity to Witness a Re-Birth…

The opportunity to feel as though you are watching a program grow from its infancy is not completely unfounded; as Seattle will once again join conference play at the Division I level for the first time since 1971.  The last time that the program experienced success at this level, they were not even called the Redhawks, but rather the Chieftans. Fans can witness a rebirth for the 2012-2013 sports season.

Which was Preceded by Irrelevance!

There is an element of bittersweetness with the Redhawks hoops program as the Seattle University program has dealt with a considerable amount of irrelevance from both a regional and a national perspective. The program had to suffer an embarrassingly brutal fall from being a crown jewel of an emerging city while contending for national championships in a golden era of basketball to plummeting into the depths of anonymity through the 1980’s and 1990’s. This was only amplified by the blossoming success across Interstate 90 in Spokane with the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

In our own lives all of us experience peaks and valleys and in some ways the Seattle basketball program can serve as a reflection of this and the potential for greatness on the horizon.

It Is NOT the Pac-12

A reason to love the Redhawks is that they aren’t in the Pac-12 Conference. For obvious reasons such as significant alumni bases and the recent successes of athletic programs, the Pac-12 gets more than its fair share of love on the left coast. Very few of these programs should ever have a chip on their shoulders, even the Oregon States and Washington States of the world, because of the reasons just mentioned. A college such as Seattle University has a legitimate gripe about a lack of love and affection.

Any school that is affiliated with the Pac-12 has certain advantages that an athletic program in a mid-major conference such as the West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference don’t have, including access to a larger student body, more resources for funding, and greater support for athletics. In showing support for Seattle University, a fan roots for a program that has the ability to play the role of Cinderella instead of a queen. In most instances, Seattle is an underdog and for most, there is an element of that to be identified with.

Redhawks vs. Huskies

The Redhawks look to make an impact on the WAC. (Andy Rogers/Red Box Pictures)

One of the Few Basketball-Related Reasons to Head to KeyArena

For Seattleites, witnessing a Seattle University game often serves as an excuse to watch a game played at the former home of the Seattle Supersonics, Key Arena.

At this point in time in the program, nobody will attempt to make the argument that coach Cameron Dollar’s boys will conjure up images of The Reignman and The Glove, but there is a certain sentimental value in seeing men play basketball with Seattle stitched across their chests.

It is an opportunity to relive old memories of the ghosts of Sonics past while watching quality basketball at a high level.

For the foreseeable future, 15 men wearing green and yellow led by a flying Sasquatch will not be walking onto the hardwood.

While the Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, and Gonzaga Bulldogs all have neutral site games there every season, the fact of the matter is that those programs are not Seattle’s alone. The Huskies and Cougars represent the state and Gonzaga is purely Spokane’s.

Whether it is a Seattle team that you are looking for or a small-program with big upside, Seattle University basketball can accommodate your every desire.

Coach Cameron Dollar and his flock will begin WAC play in November.


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About Blair Thomas

Blair no longer writes for NWSB
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  • NWSportsBeat

    Great read Blair. Thanks for sharing.

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