March 2, 2009
SEATTLE - It is nearly impossible to talk about this year's University of Washington men's basketball team without referencing the great Husky team of 1953.
That season, the Huskies won the Pacific Coast Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Final Four at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo., where it lost to a strong Kansas squad. Former UW great Bob Houbregs was a catalyst for that team and the program retired his #25 jersey after the season.
Earlier this year, Washington returned to Kansas City and, for the first time since '53, played a pair of games at Municipal Auditorium. Then, in January, the school honored Brandon Roy by retiring his #3 jersey - which hangs next to Houbregs' #25.
This weekend, the Huskies have a chance to win their first outright conference title since that 1953 team - if they can knock-off in-state rival Washington State.
On Tuesday, another tie to that 1953 Husky squad takes place when Washington renews its long-time rivalry with Seattle University - which began in... you guessed it, 1953.
13th-ranked Washington (16th, AP) hosts the Redhawks in an 8 p.m. tipoff in the first regular-season meeting between the two programs since the 1979-80 season. The game is sold-out and will be televised live by FSN Northwest.
Every Husky game is broadcast live on the radio via the Washington ISP Sports Network, which includes Seattle-based flagship station 950 KJR AM, XM Satellite Radio and GoHuskies.com. Veteran analysts Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton provide the description of the games.
The series was originally supposed to return next season, but the Huskies lost a scheduled Dec. 23 game against Lehigh due to inclement weather. That game was unable to be rescheduled so the Redhawks filled Washington's only available date. The series will resume next season with the first of five-straight annual matchups.
Washington enters Tuesday's game with a 22-7 overall record and a season-high national ranking of 13th in the ESPN/USA Today Poll and 16th by the Associated Press. The Huskies have won seven-straight non-conference games, dating back to its two-point loss to then 17th-ranked Florida in Kansas City. Overall, the UW has won 20 of its last 24 games.
Seattle University enters Tuesday's game with a 19-7 record and winners of 11 of its last 12 games. The Redhawks have a perfect 10-0 record at home and are 8-5 on the road. SU has solid wins over Louisiana Tech, UC Irvine and Loyola Marymount to its credit.
The UW and Seattle U. have four common opponents in Portland (SU loss / UW loss), Portland State (SU loss, loss / UW win), Oregon State (SU loss / UW win) and Eastern Washington (SU win / UW win).
Senior forward Austen Powers leads the Redhawks with a 13.3 per game scoring average. The Glendale, Ariz. native also averages 6.4 rebounds and shoots .507 from the field, .354 from behind the three-point arc and .804 form the free throw line. Senior forward Michael Wright is the team's leading rebounder with a 7.4 per-game average and scores at a 10.9 average. Junior guard Chris Gweth also averages 10.9 points and has a team-high 46 steals on the season.
As a team, Seattle averages 69.0 points per game, out-rebounds its opponents by almost two per game and is shooting .450 from the field. Defensively, the Redhawks average an eye-popping 10.1 steals per game.
Following the Seattle University contest, Washington remains at home for its final game of the regular-season - a sold-out Saturday afternoon contest against in-state rival Washington State. A Husky win would clinch Washington's first outright conference title since 1953 and its first-ever Pacific-10 Conference regular-season championship.