UA basketball looks to overcome rowdy Washington crowd
The atmosphere at Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle is pretty wild.
Well, I’ve never been, but I hear it’s pretty crazy, and it looks that way on TV.
Freshman guard Gabe York hasn’t been there yet, either.
He didn’t witness any of Arizona’s three losses in Seattle under head coach Sean Miller.
Tyler Besh / Arizona Daily Wildcat Men's basketball vs ASU
Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill came to Arizona at the same time as Miller, so they’re 0-for-3, too.
Miller said York might start seeing the court some more — he’s only appeared in nine games with 6.4 minutes per.
He also might not see a lick of action, who knows? But he will experience that raucous Washington environment with a team that could make a case for the best home court advantage in the Pac-12.
“They [Hill and Parrom] just tell me that Washington crowd is ridiculous and they always bring the best crowd against Arizona, so I’m excited,” York said. “Hopefully I get a chance to play. That’s what I live for, the crowd chanting. I’m excited.”
If Arizona is going to win, it will have to overcome the raucous atmosphere and devilish “Dawg Pound,” Washington’s version of the ZonaZoo, which is located right behind the away team’s bench.
“The crowd is really on top of you,” Miller said.
Miller and Hill called it the best atmosphere in the Pac-12. Creativity, Hill said, is what separates the UW student section.
He talked about some of he saw and heard there, like people yelling out Arizona players’ phone numbers.
They also have a website that breaks down each Wildcat individually.
“Things he likes, things about him, pictures,” Hill said.
The Dawg Pound is at its best during warm-ups. All Wildcats are fair game, including walk-ons. Just ask Ross Davidson, a former walk-on who was on the Wildcats during Hill’s freshman season.
“They screamed ‘Ross Davidson loves Twilight!’” Hill said.
Jacob Hazzard, be warned.
“The Dawg Pound does a tremendous job,” said Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar in a conference call Tuesday. “They do it, in my opinion, in good taste.”
Crowd noise aside, Washington basketball isn’t chopped liver either.
Before Romar was hired in 2002, the Huskies weren’t much of a contender in the Pac-10. In the 16 years before his arrival, UW only made two NCAA tournament appearances. In his nine years on the job, Washington’s been to six NCAA tournaments and three Sweet 16s.
A rivalry with Arizona has developed over the course of Romar’s tenure, and intensified during Miller’s. Many point to “The Block” — that is, Derrick Williams’ game-saving block in a “White Out”-d McKale Center two years ago.
Isaiah Thomas’ game-winning shot in the Pac-12 Championship game that year certainly helped. But, even Derrick Williams couldn’t win at Hec Ed and Arizona hasn’t won there since January 2007.
This year’s Washington squad (12-8, 4-3) isn’t quite as talented as in years past, though.
Guards Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross burned the UA for a combined 47 points and 14 rebounds in the Huskies’ 79-70 win last year in Seattle; however, Wroten and Ross are gone, and UW has struggled.
It opened conference play with four straight wins, but has since lost three straight. The Huskies have already lost four home games this season, after losing the same number all of last year.
“We need to try to regain that home court advantage,” Romar said.
They do still have 7-foot senior Aziz N’Diaye, who killed the Wildcats with 12 rebounds and four blocks last year at Hec Ed.
Abdul Gaddy, UW’s veteran point guard, recorded nine points and six assists in the same game.
C.J. Wilcox is one of the best scorers in the Pac-12, scoring 19 points per contest. He had 11 points in last year’s game.
“Those guys know how to win; they’ve played in big games; they’ve been there before,” Miller said.
This won’t be Miller’s last game in Seattle, but it will be Hill’s and Parrom’s. Washington is the last of the original Pac-10 schools that Miller, Hill and Parrom have yet to beat.
“Hopefully,” Miller said, “we can change that.”