For any basketball team on any level, the regular-season opener represents a culmination and a starting point. It is both the reward for making it through offseason training, and the tone-setter for the upcoming campaign.
In their first game of the 2012-13 season, the Seattle University men's team showed many of its strengths and a few of its flaws, while honoring its past and giving a sneak peak into its future during an 87-72 victory over Montana State at KeyArena.
Junior forward Clarence Trent led the Redhawks with 18 points and nine rebounds in just 21 minutes on his way to being named MVP of the ninth annual Elgin Baylor Classic. Using his muscle and athleticism in the paint to create high-percentage shots and free-throw opportunities -- and throwing in a couple of highlight-reel dunks -- it couldn't have been a better opener for Trent, who would go on to lead SU in scoring (9.8 points per game) and finish second in rebounds (5.8 per game) over the course of the season.
Redshirt freshman forward Deshaun Sunderhaus, who would prove to be another of the Redhawks' top players and their most consistent low-post presence, added 14 points and eight rebounds in his collegiate debut. Senior forward Chad Rasmussen, SU's top long-range threat, scored all 12 of his points on three-pointers, while senior point guard Prince Obasi flashed his all-around game with 10 points, six boards and three assists against the Bobcats.
Seattle U coach Cameron Dollar's style calls for speed and depth to create turnovers on defense that lead to quick offensive outbursts. The Redhawks looked very much like a team crafted in Dollar's vision on this night, pressing Montana State into 28 turnovers and using a pair of big runs to take a commanding 15-point lead in the first half and then go up by as much as 25 in the second half.
However, a couple of issues did surface that had plagued SU in the past and would continue to be problematic throughout the 2012-13 season: Namely, turning the ball over and missing free throws. The Redhawks committed 25 turnovers against the Bobcats and shot just 55 percent (17-for-31) at the stripe.
Overall, though, the good outweighed the bad for Seattle U in its season opener. The good was good enough for a victory, and offered the possibility that the best for this program was yet to come.