UW vs. Seattle University: Huskies Take On The Unpredictable Redhawks At KeyArena

The Seattle University Redhawks' KeyArena magic appeared to be wavering entering a game almost two weeks ago against the Utah Valley Wolverines.

After splitting their previous four home contests with a 16-point loss to Portland on the preceding Saturday and having already lost by the same margin to UVU on the road back in January, their chances of reclaiming their home court magic seemed slim.

And certainly, one might have thought, they wouldn't be controlling the rebounds in this matchup, home or away.

UVU had risen to first place in the Great West Conference having won eight of their previous nine games, while also being among the nation's top defensive rebounding teams in particular. Meanwhile, Seattle U - which is by no means a poor offensive rebounding team, standing among the nation's top 50 by percentage - entered the game having lost four of their previous five and getting beaten on the boards in all but their win at Cal State Northridge.

Then again, that all assumes that the Redhawks are predictable.

Not only did they outrebound UVU by a 46-33 margin, but they also managed to dominate the offensive glass 17 to 5 in the second half en route to a characteristically entertaining 63-57 win.

"We do a pretty good job of scrapping and fighting and getting rebounds anyway," said Seattle U coach Cameron Dollar after the game when asked about the rebounding advantage. "They played zone so I think that helped us rebound a little bit as well. But overall, it's just being aggressive and going and getting it."

Win or lose, there is rarely any doubt that the Redhawks will show up every single game ready to fight. And at some point during the season, you just had to accept it, enjoy the ride and resist the impulse to explain their outcomes game to game.

This team has been unpredictable for most of this season.

"I can't explain that," said center Alex Jones, chuckling when asked what seemed to be going on between home and the road after the Redhawks won their first home game of 2011 against Eastern Washington. "We're not a young team but we play like a young team sometimes. We're growing up and we're going to get better."

Of course, as a team that is only in its second year of Division I play, some period of growing up is to be expected. What Dollar is looking for - and what the team has done consistently - is to see his team continue fighting.

"We talk about it every year - during this time there are teams that are starting to fold up and go home and be done and kind of check out," said Dollar after last week's UVU win. "We never want to be one of those teams."

In comparison to the Washington Huskies' well-documented struggles on the road - which share some similar features, whether it be rebounding or defense - the Redhawks' ups and downs this season are much better described in the way Jones put it: they're erratic, but evolving. And even in losses, as they continue to grow, the way they've won and loss has changed rather dramatically over the course of the season - their offense looks much more consistently fuid even when they don't score well and since that first win of 2011 they've been winning the turnover battle at that frenetic pace of theirs.

But the aspect of their game that most reflects their inconsistency is their rather erratic shooting percentages.

 

 

Although they're prone to shoot a lot of 3-point shots, that doesn't really explain the shooting numbers well - far more often in their worst shooting performances it's missed shots around the basket or missed wide open shots. That said, no player embodies their youthful inconsistency better than freshman gunner Sterling Carter.

Carter's 191 3-point attempts this season rank 33rd in the nation, which is not a problem for Dollar as long as he continues to make around 35 percent. But people who talk about UW freshman Terrence Ross' quick trigger might have to adjust their thinking after watching Carter. Yet the odd thing about Carter is that he's gone through more than one game in which he's had a huge first half - making four or five threes - and then disappeared in the second half. Dollar has explained that as him simply needing to adjust to making shots off passes or out of sets. And in a way his ability to maintain an aggressive mindset despite not quite having figured things out is the perfect embodiment of the team - the team is exciting, talented, and has a promising future but is worth watching because they have never given up even when the ball isn't quite bouncing their way.

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