Although Seattle University won't appear in anyone's preseason top 25 rankings and the team is still a few years away from being eligible to compete in the NCAA tournament, there is still plenty of reason for optimism as the Redhawks look forward to their second season with a full Division I schedule.
Even though national recognition is still probably a few years off, this is a program on the rise.
After becoming the most successful first-year Division I team by finishing last season with a winning record, Seattle U was aggressive this off-season in their attempts to move forward. They immediately rewarded coach Cameron Dollar for his first-year success with a long term contract and have set a more aggressive schedule, that includes three Pac-10 games and two ACC games. That's not to mention their preliminary efforts to join the WAC or WCC.
Even the thing that might strike casual fans as the biggest reason for concern - losing versatile 6'10" forward Charles Garcia who chose to make himself eligible for the NBA Draft - could be construed as a positive: although he was a very significant part of the team's success early in the season, learning to play without him as the focal point at times last season might bode well for the team's continued growth this season.
Seattle University | No NCAA tournament doesn't mean no hope for Cameron Dollar's Seattle U. basketball team | Seattle Times Newspaper
The Redhawks lose leading scorer and rebounder Charles Garcia Jr. from last year's team. He left with a year of eligibility remaining to pursue professional options and is currently playing in Turkey.
But five key players from that team return to give the Redhawks a solid base from which to build — guards Cervante Burrell (second-leading scorer a year ago at 11.4 and the leader in assists) and Garrett Lever (a defensive standout) and forwards Aaron Broussard (10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds), Alex Jones (8.9 points) and Gavin Gilmore (4.4 points).
"That's five guys that all played good minutes for us," Dollar said. "Definitely the biggest thing this year from last year is I've got five guys that have done it, done that grind and had success doing it. They all had really good springs and summers and come in rarin' to go."
Playing in KeyArena as the first consistent winter tenant since the Seattle Sonics left, the Redhawks were an easy team to root for even if you have no ties to the school: it was a group of players recruited to play Division II ball, who played hard on both ends of the court, and were at their best when in the open court playing selfless early offense rather than relying on their star attraction in the half court.
Most exciting about this season is not only the intrigue of watching Act II in their transition to Division I, but also watching this team grow as a unit and more consistently playing the selfless style of ball that they experienced success with last season.
The Redhawks will kick off the season on October 31 with an exhibition against Pacific Lutheran.
Select-A-Seat at KeyArena Set For October 31 - Seattle University Redhawks Athletics
This event will give fans a chance to lock in their seats for another exciting season of Seattle University men's basketball, which will include games at KeyArena against the University of Washington, the University of Portland and Oregon State. Seats for the season start at only $96.50 and can be billed in four installment plans as well.
The day will also feature an exhibition game starting at 4:00 p.m. against Pacific Lutheran, giving the public a first-hand view of the 2010-2011 version of the Redhawks. The event will be free to the public, however a ticket will be necessary for admission and these will be available at the East Box Office at KeyArena starting at 1:00 p.m.