‘In order to make it a true rivalry, you have to beat them at some point,’ said Dollar, whose Redhawks are 0-7 against UW.
The allure of returning to Montlake has waned for Cameron Dollar, the Seattle University men’s basketball coach who spent seven years at Washington as an assistant.
Ten consecutive losses to the Huskies will kill any feelings of nostalgia going into Tuesday’s 8 p.m. rematch at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“In order to make it a true rivalry, you have to beat them at some point,” said Dollar, who is 0-7 against UW.
Seattle U @ UW,
8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
A year ago, Seattle U seemed poised to finally get a win against the team Dollar affectionately calls its “big brother.”
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The Redhawks had a veteran team led by senior sharpshooters Isiah Umipig and Jarrell Flora. They also had the Huskies at their place — KeyArena — and a 21-20 lead at halftime.
However, SU fell apart in the second half and succumbed to a 19-4 UW run that blew the game open and gave the Huskies a 63-48 victory.
It was the seventh double-digit defeat for the Redhawks, who have lost by an average of 16.8 points during the losing streak against UW.
Maybe a few years ago, Dollar played up the backyard-brawl aspect during his pregame prep talks — the two schools are separated by 3½ miles in what ranks as the 11th-shortest road trip among Division I teams.
There’s also a level of familiarity between the teams, considering their players participated on opposing squads this summer in an offseason league at North Seattle Community College. The UW and SU rosters include a handful of Seattle-area players who have played with and against each other for years.
However, Dollar spoke almost exclusively about the lessons the Redhawks will learn Tuesday when asked to preview the crosstown showdown.
“For us, its an opportunity to get our sights square on what’s coming up in March,” he said. “We want to definitely be competing and pushing ourselves to be ready for tournament play and that championship game so we get a chance to get to that NCAA tournament.”
The Redhawks (5-6) can afford to take a long view when it comes to nonconference games, because most years their only avenue to the NCAA tournament is to win the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
Conversely, the Huskies (7-3) need as many nonconference wins as possible to bolster their resume in an effort to secure an at-large NCAA tournament berth in case they don’t win the Pac-12 tourney.
Losing 97-83 at home Saturday to Oakland was a serious setback for UW, which saw its RPI fall from 76 to 92 in the past week.
“They just dropped one, so they’re going to be focused and dialed in,” Dollar said.
UW’s Andrew Andrews, who averages 20.4 points, and Seattle U newcomer Brendan Westendorf, who averages 11.9 points, are the respective scoring leaders for their teams.
The game also offers contrasting styles of defense. The Redhawks must contend with the Huskies’ pressure defense, and UW has to solve SU’s 3-2 zone.
“We always know they’re going to play hard,” UW coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They’re going to get after it.”
Five years ago, the teams combined for 102 free throws in UW’s 123-76 victory. Eight players fouled out, and Seattle U finished the game with just four players.
“I don’t expect anything like that,” Romar said. “But you never know.”