March 10, 2011
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
LOS ANGELES - A woman begs in vain for money or food while standing in the middle of the off ramp of the 110 freeway. She is inches beside the Huskies' conspicuous, red-and-yellow chartered bus. The UW players, three of whom are from Southern California, look with wide eyes through tinted windows.
A few minutes down Manchester Avenue then up Vermont in South Central Los Angeles, the bus pulls into Frederick K.C. Price III Schools. The gated complex of elementary, middle and high schools feels like an oasis from the urban grit surrounding it. The bus travels down a driveway lined with palm trees and lush lawns and past a white, bubble-topped building known as the "Faithdome" - officially , the Crenshaw Christian Center. A banner proclaims it houses "The power of faith to transform your life."
A few feet past the "Faithdome," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar steps off the bus and immediately hugs the warm, elderly gentlemen who greets him. The man, one of the campus security guards, then asks, "Where's my man Tyreese?"
Seconds later, Huskies sophomore Tyreese Breshers, who is no longer playing for UW because of a medical condition discovered before this season, walks into the gym wearing Huskies purple and a W cap -- and gets a huge hug from the guard.
Breshers' homecoming Friday afternoon at Price High School here doubled as Washington's shoot-around practice, six hours before tipoff of the Pac-10 tournament against Washington State downtown at Staples Center.
During it, Romar told GoHuskies.com that senior co-captain Justin Holiday would play Friday night after sustaining a concussion last weekend in the regular-season finale against USC.
Romar came to Price High School last year, too, for another short practice during the Pac-10 tournament, when Breshers was playing as a freshman.
"How's your Mom and Dad?" the security guard asks Breshers. "Give your Mom my best - and tell her to call me. I've told her to call me, to stay in touch, and she hasn't called."
Breshers chuckles and replies, "I'll get on her for you."
The Huskies took shots and worked out lightly under 28, blue-and-white championship banners in Division 4 and 5 of the California Interscholastic Federation's Southern Section - all from Price's boys' basketball team, some with Breshers' name on them. Allen Crabbe and Richard Solomon, both of whom at that hour were playing for California up the freeway against USC at Staples Center, had their names on banners, too.
Norvel Pelle, a target of UW's last fall before signing with St. John's, has his name on a sign tacked below the title banners, in advance of Price's home game in this gym later Friday.
Breshers gazes at those. Asked for a memory of the small gym with fluorescent, buzzing lights and just seven rows of pull-out bleachers along each sideline, Breshers smiles and says: "Well, I never lost in here."
Then the 6-foot-7 forward points to the rim on the tiny gym's east end.
"Broke that one right there. In practice," he said, proudly, as injured teammate Abdul Gaddy listens to his right.
Broke it clean off its hinges, as in, the rim feel to the floor?
"Yeah, pretty much," Breshers said, laughing.
He then received hugs from Price head coach Mike Lynch, the same coach he had here a few years ago, and from Knights assistants.
The Huskies had fun along with work. Romar stood in the middle of the court and playfully pantomimed being a left-handed baseball pitcher, wound up and threw a basketball to Gaddy from the center of the floor as Breshers laughed. Then the coach called his Huskies together to begin running through the scouting report for Washington State.
After about an hour, Breshers said goodbye. Romar thanked Lynch and the security guard for letting the Huskies drop in again.
And the team bus rolled back out through the campus gates, back through South Central L.A., back to the hotel downtown for the final hours before Friday night's big game.