March 2, 2012 10:27 am ET by Donovan Potts
Game #8-667: Longwood Lancers at Seattle RedhawksFebruary 29, 2012 10:10 pm
Forgive my touristy nature, but the first thing I did upon arriving in Seattle was to go up in the Space Needle. I mean, I did have time to kill before heading to Key Arena, just a few hundred feet away, for a game. And, I can now say I've been in two of the tallest structures in America, the other being the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Washington Monument, you're next!
After making the quick elevator ride to the top, I could quickly see my time and my $20 admission fee would not be wasted on this trip. I found sweeping views of the city, the low clouds lingering from a passing storm slowly dancing with the evergreens on the surrounding hills, and boats of all sizes inching along the waters of the Puget Sound.
The Space Needle stood as the keystone of the 1962 World's Fair held in Seattle. Officially named the Century 21 Exposition, the theme of the fair was a look to the future and what it would hold. The Washington State Coliseum, a 400-foot square building with a long pyramid-style roof, housed the "World of Tomorrow."
The "World of Tomorrow" featured the "Office of Tomorrow" which boldly predicted the advent of "miniature micro-mail, machines to transmit correspondence, and machines that communicated with each other." I'm not sure what micro-mail is, but the other two were spot on. Of course, the atmosphere of fear at the time also played a part in this World, with several dire warnings as to how all this could be lost, punctuated with films showing typical American households destroyed under a mushroom cloud.
Once the fair ended, the Seattle University Chieftans, just four years removed from a national runner-up finish, moved into the now-renamed Seattle Center Coliseum. In 1967, a professional basketball team moved in to the building as well, one with a name befitting a city with a deep aviation background. With Seattle's basketball interest deflected to the pros, Seattle's once-robust basketball program waned. In 1980, the school demoted itself to NAIA, and games would now be played on campus.
But soon after the start of the actual Century 21, the course of Seattle basketball started to swing. Seattle U. wanted to return to its former stature and began the process of re-instating itself as an NCAA Division I institution. Meanwhile, the pro team was no longer happy with its surroundings in the old Coliseum, now named KeyArena.
On July 2, 2008, the bomb fell on Seattle. Their professional basketball team announced it would relocate to Oklahoma City. KeyArena officials scrambled to fill some of the vacant dates now left in their building. One of the groups to accept the offer, the Seattle University men's basketball team. Now named the Redhawks, the chance to play their games in a big-time arena fit in well with their quest to become a big-time team again.
So, after my time at the Space Needle, I walked into KeyArena and watched its original tenant dismantle the Longwood Lancers. Seattle took off on a 20-2 run, with Sterling "Sporty" Carter draining his first four superhoop attempts on his way to 28 points for the game.
Coach Cameron Dollar had his team push the full-court press on the visiting team and surely enough, the Lancers coughed the ball up with regularity. By halftime, the Redhawks had built a 65-23 lead, and the rout was in full effect. When it was mercifully over, Seattle had put up 111 points, a number more fitting for the previous professional tenants of the building, but still very impressive.
And as both teams left the KeyArena floor, a place that once heralded the future to come, both teams had their own futures to look toward. Longwood will join the Big South next season, their life in the purgatory as an Independent finally over. Seattle also makes the jump to a conference next year as they join a WAC somewhat still in flux.
As for KeyArena, nothing is certain. The corporate sponsorship is officially over, and the name only remains until some other company buys the rights. Seattle University will continue to play there, but ideas for an mid-size on-campus facility are in their nascent stages.
As for me, I quickly made my way to Sea-Tac and hopped on a red-eye back to St. Louis as the calendar changed into our month, and madness awaited on the other end.
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