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Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Seattle gets foul-crazy, finishes Washington game with four players

By Eamonn Brennan

You may or may not have noticed last night's Washington-Seattle score. (When a No. 1 goes down in its first game, neglect is an understandable side effect.) That score? 123-76. This is weird for a variety of reasons -- one of which is that Seattle beat Oregon State by 50 earlier this season -- but the weirdest bit didn't happen in the scoreline. It happened at the foul line.

After his team fell way behind in the first half, trailing 61-20 at the midway point, Seattle coach Cameron Dollar decided to get creative. In so many words, he told his players to foul. The Redhawks went for steals but played for contact when possible. The payoff of this strategy, which Dollar said was designed to "get them in the bonus quick and slow the game down," was Seattle fouling 29 times in 20 minutes of basketball, fouling out six players, and leaving the Redhawks with four guys on the floor for the final 1:27.

This is certifiably insane. Dollar could have finished with five, but it would have meant throwing away redshirt freshman Adam Eakles' eligibility on 90 seconds of basketball, which, duh. Of course not. So the Redhawks did the same thing you do when your intramural team's fifth player is still nursing his hangover in his dorm room: they played four guys.

All things considered, though, I suppose the strategy is understandable. It's even sort of interesting in a Gladwellian-alternative sort of way. What's most confusing is how Washington can so utterly destroy Seattle after Seattle so utterly destroyed Oregon State. Was Seattle playing six men against OSU? And as my editor said last night: When Washington plays the Beavers in March, do the Huskies win by 100?