The last time I remember even remotely seeing Cameron Dollar, I was 16 going on 17. It was the NCAA tournament, and Dollar and the UCLA Bruins went to the Elite Eight his senior year. Dollar had a three-year run of national title, Sweet 16 and Elite Eight runs. Yes, they went in that order, but still. Ninety percent of the Red Line can only dream of one of those runs in a lifetime.
And then, there he was, sitting 10 feet away as the game started. His coaching career since leaving LA is thus: At 22, he took over Southern California Colleg, an NAIA school in Costa Mesa, Calif. Dollar went to Athens, Ga. for a three-month stint for Georgia, then spent three years in St. Louis with Lorenzo Romar. Dollar followed Romar to Washington to coach with the Huskies, then stayed in Seattle - site of UCLA's 1995 championship in which Dollar subbed in for Tyus Edney and helped UCLA earn the title - when he went to the just-turned-D-IA schoolThe Redhawks will join the ranks of the conference-dwellers when it moves to the Western Athletic Conference in 2012. They'd seem a better fit in the WCC, and so agreed Seattle U. radio man Gary Hill, or even the Big Sky being a school that has no football. A lack of swimming, baseball and men's soccer probably did the Big Sky in (if they bid for SU to come to them). But alas, the WAC is where Dollar's fourth season - I think he'll stick on with a 29-34 career-record and "a whole lotta basketball left" as Hill said into Seattle radios midway through the first half. Dollar, feet away, laughed and echoed the statement.
At that point, Seattle U was down 27-22 in the game, and both user statements were about the game itself. Over the next nine minutes the Redhawks turned the game on its head and were up 52-42. They held that edge thanks to a great strategy: they bled to shot clock down to single digits before taking shots. Not only did that force the Bobcats to play defense for long stretches of a time, it got them frustrated. With 7 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first half Seattle had only two free throw shots attempted. For the next 27:29, Seattle took 23 foul shots and missed just three of them. The Bobcats got frustrated.
So did their fans: the relatively sparse crowd of 2,407 spent a massive amount of time raining boos vociferously on the men in striped shirts. While the whistle count was close (23 fouls MSU, 19 Seattle) it was explained thusly - MSU had a bad shooting night, missing 40 shots total, and missed shots for the home team + lots of fouls on the home team + the visiting team making free throws and field goals = one unhappy crowd. One of those in the crowd was a relative homegrown son - former MSU stalwart Bobby Howard. He was in town because, as he noted after the contest while playing with a handful of little kids, his dream of pro basketball was on semi-permanent hiatus. He went to Sibiu, Romania, for a few months before getting homesick and wanting to come back stateside. Then, he became the first Bobcat drafted in the NBADL when a team in Reno, Nev. , selected him in the seventh round. He stayed with the Bighorns for a fortnight, getting axed on the final day of cutdowns Tuesday. The Great Falls (MT) native will take some time off, but will get into coaching in the meantime.
The symmetry hit me just then: off in a locker room somewhere, a former player was changing into presumably more comfortable attire and hopping a bus to one of three places: a hotel, a plane or a humongous straight drive home to the Emerald City. Sitting next to me on the opposite end of the building was another former hoopster, presumably heading off on a coaching path of his own.
As for the question posited: There's a Black Line, there's a Red Line, but what lies beneath? For one ex-player, joy. For another - though Howard is rarely without a smile - a bit of sadness.
SEATTLE 85, at MONTANA STATE 73 11/22/2011
SEATTLE 1-2 (0-0) -- A. Broussard 7-10 8-9 23; C. Rasmussen 4-7 0-0 11; E. Wallace 7-10 4-4 18; C. Trent 6-11 2-4 15; A. Tate 2-6 0-0 5; P. Obasi 0-2 2-2 2; L. Green 1-2 0-0 2; S. Carter 1-1 2-2 5; C. Burrell 0-1 4-4 4. Totals 28-50 22-25 85. MONTANA STATE 2-2 (0-0) -- M. Fall 3-6 0-0 6; R. Singleton 3-8 5-5 14; T. Johnson 4-10 0-0 8; J. Stewart 2-6 1-2 5; X. Johnson-Blount 6-11 3-5 17; C. Moon 2-6 5-5 11; S. Reid 0-7 0-0 0; M. Dison 2-4 0-2 6; J. Allou 1-2 1-2 3; J. Budinich 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 24-64 15-21 73.
Three-point goals: SEA 7-16 (E. Wallace 0-1; S. Carter 1-1; A. Broussard 1-2; C. Trent 1-3; C. Rasmussen 3-6; P. Obasi 0-1; A. Tate 1-2), MTST 10-24 (J. Budinich 1-3; S. Reid 0-3; R. Singleton 3-5; J. Stewart 0-2; X. Johnson-Blount 2-4; C. Moon 2-5; M. Dison 2-2); Rebounds: SEA 35 (E. Wallace 8), MTST 23 (M. Fall 7); Assists: SEA 14 (C. Trent 4), MTST 12 (J. Stewart 4); Total Fouls -- SEA 19, MTST 23; Fouled Out: SEA-P. Obasi; MTST-T. Johnson.