SU's Defining Dozen: #1

Every college basketball program has its benchmark opponent -- the standard against which they judge themselves as successes or failures. For some, it may be a conference contender. For others, no less than the national champion. For Seattle University, it's the crosstown purple powerhouse less than five miles away.

Seattle U has played Washington four times since the Redhawks officially rejoined the NCAA Division 1 ranks in 2009, hoping to reignite a local rivalry while using the Huskies as an annual progress report.

"To get a win against them, that means we're improving," says SU rising senior point guard D'Vonne Pickett Jr. "They're a good gauge to determine where we're at. Even if we don't win the game, if we play well, it shows were we are."

The first time the Redhawks faced the Huskies in their return to D1, it ended in a 123-76 rout in which UW ran SU out of the gym so thoroughly the Redhawks were down to only four bodies by the end of the game due to several players fouling out.

While the end result has been the same, the games have become more competitive as Seattle U has improved, including last season's 87-74 loss to Washington at KeyArena on Dec. 13, 2012.

Taking advantage of SU's offensive ineffectiveness and defensive breakdowns, UW jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half. The Huskies extended their advantage to as much as 27, and went into halftime leading by 22.

"It was real intense," said Pickett, a Seattle native who played with and against UW alums past and present growing up. "Everybody kind of had jitters in the first half; that's what I remember. Everybody was a little uptight at first, but in the second half we loosened up and went on a run."

Pickett and senior forward Chad Rasmussen sparked SU's 11-2 run to open the second half, cutting the deficit to 13. But the Redhawks could only play the Huskies even the rest of the way, falling short of the win.

Rasmussen led Seattle U with 19 points and five three-pointers, junior forward Clarence Trent had 12 points, and Pickett added nine points and a team-high six rebounds. Scott Suggs led Washington with 24 points, while Desmond Simmons (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Aziz N'diaye (14 points, 11 rebounds) had double-doubles for the Huskies.

The loss was Seattle U's eighth straight loss to Washington, who leads the all-time series 24-4.

"I'm not sure how people gauge a real rivalry, but for me it is," Pickett says. "When we play UW, the week prior is just different. Everybody is dialed in, Coach (Cameron Dollar) is even smiling a little more.

"I would consider it a rivalry that will continue to get better as SU gets better."


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