Eighth Season of Bender Ball Begins at Washington
Oct. 30, 2000
'Last year was a season in which our pride was tested after the success we had over the previous four years. We want to get back to that level as quickly as possible. The optimism to be able to do that comes from the fact that we've got five seniors. Of those five seniors, four of them have been to the NCAA Tournament.' Washington Coach Bob Bender
A five-man senior class is the nucleus around which eighth-year coach Bob Bender seeks to form a winning unit. The Washington men's basketball team finished with a 10-20 record last season, snapping a string of four consecutive winning seasons that culminated in postseason berths. The Huskies tied for eighth place in the Pacific-10 Conference with a 5-13 record. In addition to the five seniors, who collectively have played 317 career games, the roster includes four other returning lettermen (9 total), four scholarship newcomers and three walk-ons. Highlighting the season is the return to the on-campus arena that has Husky hopes hovering. The 17,072-seat KeyArena in downtown Seattle never really felt like home despite an average attendance of 7,851. As a result, Washington finished with a better record in enemy arenas (6-9) than at home (4-9) last season for only the third time in school history.
Home Sweet Home:
The Huskies return to campus after a one-season absence, playing home games at Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The pavilion underwent a 19-month renovation from March of 1999 to November of 2000. The interior was completely redesigned while the building's exterior went unchanged. Despite an increased seating capacity from 7,900 to approximately 10,000, the arena will be more intimate with a basketball-only configuration. The Huskies have won 746 games in the Pavilion since it opened on Dec. 27, 1927, more victories than any other school in its current arena. Washington tallied a 49-9 record in its last four seasons (1996-99) at the Pavilion before playing last season at KeyArena in downtown Seattle during renovations.
o The Huskies return to their on-campus venue, Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion where they have won 746 games since 1927, the most among NCAA teams in their current arena. The first game at the Arena is Nov. 25.
o UW's five-man senior class has a combined 317 games of experience.
o Washington's 2000-01 schedule features at least 15 games against 2000 postseason competitors, including 10 with NCAA Tournament teams from last year.
Two primary starters return for Washington, seniors Will Perkins and Michael Johnson along with senior forward Thalo Green who has been a part-time starter for three seasons. No returning player averaged double-figure points last season. Johnson is the leading returning scorer with a 9.9-point average last year while Perkins averaged 7.8 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds. Green averaged 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 1999-2000. That trio looks to lead the Huskies into the postseason after missing out last season for the first time in five years.
The Huskies battled numerous injuries and the nation's fourth-toughest schedule en route to a 10-20 record in 2000. They tied for eighth place in the Pac-10 with a 5-13 mark. Highlighting the season were victories over two NCAA Tournament-bound conference rivals. Washington defeated No. 24 UCLA 63-62 in Seattle and won 67-58 at Oregon. Individually, Deon Luton finished his career as UW's No. 8 all-time scorer (1,488 points) and the owner of school 3-point records for career (212), season (75) and game (7).
Bob Bender has participated in the NCAA Tournament at every school with which he has been affiliated, including back-to-back berths with Washington in 1998 and 1999. He has a seven-year record of 95-104 with the Huskies. The UW tied for eighth in the Pac-10 with a 5-13 record in 2000 and had a 10-20 overall record that snapped a string of four consecutive winning seasons. In 1999, Washington was 17-12, capped by an NCAA Tournament appearance. The 1998 Huskies posted a 20-10 record that marked the school's finest winning percentage since 1985. Among the 1998 Husky highlights were their first 20-win season since 1987, their first NCAA berth since 1986 and their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1984. The 1997 UW team posted a 17-11 record, capped by the Huskies' second straight National Invitation Tournament appearance. Washington's record improved four straight seasons under Bender, including a 16-12 mark in 1996 after which he was voted the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. The UW was 5-22 in 1994 and 10-17 in 1995. His 95 victories rank fourth among all-time Washington coaches. Bender, who began his career with a four-year stint at Illinois State (1990-93), has an 11-year career record of 155-160. His Illinois State squads were 60-57, earning two Missouri Valley Conference championships, one conference tournament title and an NCAA Tournament berth in 1990. Prior to his inaugural head coaching assignment at ISU, Bender served as an assistant on Mike Krzyzewski's Duke staff (1983-1989). The Blue Devils qualified for the NCAA Tournament in each of Bender's six seasons on the staff, including four trips to the Final Four. Bender, 43, is the only individual to play on two different teams in the NCAA Championship game. He was a freshman on Bobby Knight's undefeated 1976 Indiana team and played point guard at Duke from 1977-80, including an appearance in the 1978 title game against Kentucky.
Bob Bender's staff is comprised associate head coach Byron Boudreaux along with assistant coaches Eric Hughes and Al Hairston. Boudreaux begins his sixth season on the staff, his second as the associate. Hughes has been with Bender during his entire seven-year tenure at UW. Hairston, a former Seattle Sonic and legendary prep coach at Seattle's Garfield High School, begins his first season. He replaces Jason Hamilton who left to pursue interests outside of coaching.
Two starters and nine lettermen return from last year's team, including senior guard Michael Johnson, UW's top statistical returnee in points (9.9 ppg), assists (64), 3-pointers (34) and 3-point accuracy (34%). Forward Will Perkins led all Huskies in rebounds (5.9 rpg), field goal accuracy (48%) and blocked shots (39) last season. They are joined by forward Thalo Green who led UW in steals (35) and was second in rebounds (4.9 rpg). Juniors David Dixon and Marlon Shelton return to battle for the starting center spot. The 6-11 Dixon started twice in 2000 while the 6-10 Shelton drew four starts. Senior Bryan Brown has experience at the point guard position after playing as Senque Carey's backup last season. With Carey's transfer to New Mexico, Brown has the inside track on the starting role. He will be pressed by a pair of incoming freshmen point guards from Tacoma, Wash., Curtis Allen and C.J. Massingale. Expect senior swingman Greg Clark to play a major role with increased minutes. The UW's defensive stopper should display his offensive prowess this year. Junior Grant Leep seeks to return from a knee injury that sidelined him for the final 19 games in 2000. Leep possesses a solid inside game with range out to the 3-point line. Sophomore Ben Coffee is an athletic small forward who is a capable rebounder and looks to surface as an offensive threat. Walk-ons Travis Duty and Jason Triplett provide depth for the guard corps.
The Washington roster is bolstered by the addition of three scholarship recruits, including a pair of guards from Tacoma, Wash. Both Curtis Allen, from Wilson High School, and C.J. Massingale, from Mount Tahoma High School, will battle for playing time at point guard as they ranked Nos. 7 and 8 among prospects in the West at that position by Pac-West Hoops. They are the first Tacoma natives to receive scholarships from the Washington basketball team since Steve Matzen who lettered from 1977 to 1980. Allen was the state Class 4A player of the year, averaging 25.2 points and 4.0 assists per game. Massingale averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists to win his second straight Narrows League Bridge Division MVP award. Bolstering the frontcourt is 6-9, 270-pound DeMarcus Williams from Upland (Calif.) High School. Williams was rated the No. 12 center prospect in the West by Pac-West Hoops and was an honorable mention All-America pick by Blue Ribbon magazine. Invited walk-on freshmen Sterling Brown (Woodinville HS) and David Hudson (Rainier Beach HS) are also new to the team. Sophomore Doug Wrenn, a transfer from Connecticut, will red-shirt this season.
Four players have departed from last year's team, including three starters and reserve guard Andrew Moritz. The biggest loss is guard Deon Luton who completed his career as the Huskies' No. 8 all-time scorer with 1,488 points. Luton owns every UW 3-point record, including career (212), season (75) and single-game (7) treys. Forward Chris Walcott started 20 games and was a solid inside-outside presence for Washington. Senque Carey started two years at point guard before transferring during the summer to New Mexico. Carey led the team last year with 137 assists, the third-best season total in UW history.
Letter of Intent Period:
High school seniors can officially declare their plans to attend their selected college during the early letter of intent signing period. The fall early period lasts one week, from November 8 through 15. Student-athletes not signed during that time must wait for the spring signing period that runs from April 11 until May 15. Since verbal or other agreements made prior to the official signing periods are not binding, university personnel are not permitted to talk about prospective signees until a letter of intent has been signed and received by the school. Signing announcements will be released upon arrival of letters.
Washington opens the season on Friday, Nov. 10 with an exhibition game against NCAA Division II power Seattle Pacific. Tip-off is 7 p.m. at Brougham Pavilion on the SPU campus. The Falcons advanced to the division II Final Four last season, finishing with a 27-5 record. Admission for the game hosted by SPU is $7 and $6 for reserved seats and $5 for general admission. Students, senior citizens and children are $3 for general admission. The Huskies host Brewster Packing on Nov. 12 in their second exhibition contest. That game will also be played at Brougham Pavilion, but there will be no charge for admission. Washington has a 31-9 all-time record in exhibition games, including a 96-82 win over Mt. Gambier (Australia) in its last exhibition.
Good seats are available for all Washington home games, including season tickets and other special packages. New this season is a Husky Hoops Fan Plan that lets you pick the games you want to see. Select any five men's games for $40. Also new is the Pepsi 'Fun for Four' Family Pack for quartets of all ages. Get four general admission game tickets, four Pepsi drinks and four hot dogs for only $25. Reserved seats for individual Husky games are $16 while general admission seats are $6 for adults and $3 for high school students, senior citizens and children. University of Washington students with current student identification can purchase individual game tickets for $3 or buy a student season pass for $30 that is also good for women's games. Visit the Husky Ticket Office, located in the Graves Building, or call (206-543-2200) for information. Individual game reserved tickets will also be available for sale through all TicketMaster outlets, phone centers (206-628-0888) or via the internet at www.ticketmaster.com.
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