Seattle U. faces a rugged road opener at Maryland | College men's basketball
Coach Cameron Dollar's Redhawks could be a better shooting club this season
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle U. @ Maryland, 5 p.m.
Seattle University men's basketball coach Cameron Dollar has one pretty simple wish for his team's season-opening trip to Maryland, a game that tips off Monday at 5 p.m.
"Hopefully we'll start the game on time," he said with a laugh.
A year ago, when Seattle U. opened its season at Oklahoma State, the game was delayed by more than 1 ½ hours when the officials failed to show up on time.
That set a tone for a tough opener for the Redhawks, who lost 86-64 in what was their first game in their first return season playing at the Division I level.
Seattle U. has grown as a program since then and gets a quick chance to further put itself on the map against Maryland, one of the most tradition-laden teams in the country.
The game is part of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. Seattle U. will play three more games in the tournament in Irvine, Calif., later this month.
Monday night's game is at Maryland's posh 17,950-seat Comcast Center, and Dollar said the surroundings provide one of the biggest challenges for his team.
"For a lot of our guys, this will be the first time they have ever had an experience like this," Dollar said, referring to the seven players on the roster who will be making their D-I debut. "So just handling that will be the biggest adjustment."
The Redhawks, however, have five players returning from last year's team, which finished 17-14 and won games on the road against teams such as Utah and Oregon State.
Four of those five — guards Cervante Burrell and Garrett Lever and forwards Gavin Gilmore and Aaron Broussard — started in the team's 121-91 exhibition win over Pacific Lutheran on Halloween. The other starter was freshman guard Sterling Carter.
The Redhawks hit 41 of 68 shots in that game and 11 of 22 three-pointers, early evidence that this could be a much better outside shooting team than a year ago.
It could also be deeper. Mark McLaughlin, a guard from Inglemoor High who transferred from Baylor, came off the bench to lead the Redhawks with 25 points in 24 minutes against the Lutes. And Dollar says he could play nine or 10 players regularly, allowing the Redhawks to play at a frenetic pace.
"It's going to be a good test of our abilities," said senior forward Alex Jones, the other returner from a year ago. "So I'm excited to see how we do."
Maryland is in somewhat of a rebuilding mode after advancing to the NCAA tournament the last two seasons, led by guard Greivis Vasquez, who went on to become a first-round pick of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Maryland has generally been projected to finish somewhere in the middle of the 12-team Atlantic Coast Conference.
Seattle U. will then play at the University of San Francisco on Friday night before returning for its home opener Sunday at 5 p.m. at KeyArena against Cal Poly and former Redhawks coach Joe Callero.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
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