The Washington Huskies face a pair of goals tonight: trying to prove themselves one of the top 68 teams in the NCAA and the best within the Seattle city limits.
Those quests await at 7:10 p.m. when UW tips off against Seattle University in a late-season nonconference game at KeyArena.
As of now, coach Lorenzo Romar said he believes his 18-8 Huskies have done enough to merit an at-large spot among the 68-team NCAA tournament field. But he admits he doesn’t know how many more losses might be too many.
“I do think we’re in a position where if we take care of our own business, we’ll be fine,” he said. “We can’t stumble right now. I don’t know if that means one game, two games. I just know that we have four games where we don’t leave Seattle before we go to the Pac-10 tournament, and we need to try to take advantage of that.”
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After tonight, the Huskies conclude the regular season with conference home games against Washington State, UCLA and USC.
But before trying to climb a rung to second place in the Pacific-10 Conference standings, Washington will try to confirm its city superiority over the Redhawks.
“There’s a couple of (Seattle U) players that I played with, and I like kind of know their whole team,” said senior Venoy Overton, the only Seattle native on the UW roster. “This game is for the town, for the city. A lot of city players. I know that they’ll try to get a name for themselves, and we’re going to try to not let that happen.”
Redhawks guard Sterling Carter played with Overton at Franklin High School.
And while he stopped short of predicting a Seattle U victory, he guaranteed that the Redhawks will make a better showing than they did last season, when they were crushed, 123-76.
“We’re not losing by 47 this game,” Carter said. “I know that for a fact. I’m not going to say we’re going to win the game, but I’m not going to say we’re going to lose by 47 either.”
Seattle U coach Cameron Dollar, a former UW assistant under Romar, was asked what his team must do better than it did last season.
“Score,” he said with a laugh. “... It would be good for us to come out, have a good start, score some buckets early and kind of get in the flow. Last year, we gave up some transition buckets that we shouldn’t have, but other than that we just didn’t make some shots. If you don’t make shots, it’s going to be hard to obviously stay with them.”
A lot of basketball fans in the area seem eager to see how things turn out. For the first time at their KeyArena home, the Redhawks will open about 5,000 additional seats in the upper bowl.
“I think there are a lot of Seattle U fans that are excited about having an opportunity to play the Huskies at KeyArena, so I expect it to be a very pro-Seattle U crowd,” Dollar said. “For a long time, obviously we know the tradition and history of Seattle U basketball, so it’s exciting for them to kind of come and be in that game and relive a lot of the past moments, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Pac-10 has announced start times and television arrangements for UW’s final two games of the regular season. The Huskies will play host to UCLA at 6 p.m. March 3 in a game that will be shown on ESPN or ESPN2; and USC will visit at 7:30 p.m. March 5 in a game carried by FSN. ... Arizona forward Derrick Williams was named Pac-10 player of the week Monday after averaging 26 points, 9.5 rebounds and two assists in the Wildcats’ wins over Washington State and Washington. He had 26 points, 11 rebounds and a key blocked shot in the final seconds against the Huskies. blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports