Just catching up on posting the two Washington Post articles from this week, the first on Seattle University basketball and the second on Darryl Webster.
It was a blip on the college basketball holiday landscape, one of those scores that might cause people to squint their eyes in surprise for a moment before moving on:
Seattle 59, Virginia 53.
For the Cavaliers, the Dec. 22 loss was certainly a surprise but, given that it came two days after a narrow escape against Norfolk State, probably not a shock. It did end a five-game winning streak and it came at home against a school most of the 8,679 fans at John Paul Jones Arena might not know from the gone-but-not-forgotten Seattle SuperSonics.
"We took one on the chin," was the way Virginia Coach Tony Bennett described it.
For Seattle, a school that played under the name Chieftains in its glory days back in the 1950s but now calls itself the Redhawks in its new incarnation, it was far more than that. It was evidence that the often-Sisyphean feat of moving back into Division I is not impossible. The rock may not be up the hill, but it is closer to the top than people may think or know.
"If you looked at the budget we have and the planning that's been done you would stop and go, 'Wow, these guys are serious,' " Seattle Coach Cameron Dollar said after the biggest win in his two seasons as the Redhawks' coach. "We know we've got a ways to go, but a win like this shows all of us the potential that is there."
In the past 30 years, more and more schools have tried to make the jump to Division I, tempted by the huge dollars that can be made by reaching the NCAA tournament. Of course, what most presidents and athletic directors miss when they line up to collect that money is that there are now 346 teams in Division I and 68 NCAA tournament bids. Do the math.
Seattle, however, is not your typical Division I newbie. It has, to say the least, a rich basketball history. In the early 1950s, Seattle became the first and only team to beat the Harlem Globetrotters, back when the Globetrotters played real games. In 1958, led by a pretty decent player out of the District named Elgin Baylor, the Chieftains made the Final Four, upset top-ranked Kansas State and then lost the championship game to Kentucky when Baylor was forced to play with an injured rib. From then until 1980, Seattle had 27 players drafted by the NBA, the greatest of them being Baylor, who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Lakers.
Click here for the rest of the column: Seattle basketball is on a long journey back to full Division I status
For all the stories about what can go wrong in college athletics, there are still occasionally stories about what can go right.
One of those stories unfolded Saturday afternoon at Smith Center, when Harvard came to town to play George Washington. The Crimson pulled out a 67-62 victory to up their record to 12-3, rallying with its two leading scorers on the bench with injuries that occurred during the game.
Christian Webster, Landon Class of 2009, started at shooting guard for Harvard. He came into the game averaging 14.1 points per game, making him the second-leading scorer for the Crimson, and had eight points in 14 minutes when he felt a sharp pain in his hip during a scramble for the ball inside.
Even with treatment, he could barely walk back up the steps from the locker room at halftime, so he sat on the bench, eyes rimmed in red from the pain and from frustration at not being able to play in his homecoming game.
But as Harvard rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit, no one cheered harder for the Crimson than Darryl Webster, Coolidge High School Class of 1982 and GW Class of 1986, proud father of the injured Harvard sophomore with the sweet shot and the calm demeanor. A few rows up from the Webster family sat Gerry Gimelstob, who Darryl Webster would tell you was largely responsible for his son being on the floor in a Harvard uniform.
"I was raised by my grandparents," Darryl Webster said as people began to file into the gym. "My grandfather never got beyond the fourth grade. I was lucky to graduate from high school. I had a 2.0 grade-point average and bad SATs. But Gerry took a chance on me. I came here and got into the remedial education program before my freshman year.
"Even then, it was a struggle at first. Gerry had a rule we had to go to study hall every day or come here and run around the building at 5 o'clock in the morning. I went to study hall. Sometime my sophomore year, the light went on. I had never really like to read. All of a sudden, I loved to read. It changed my life."
Gimelstob was in his first year as George Washington's coach when he recruited Webster. "The school hadn't really been recruited the inner city in D.C.," he said Saturday. "I thought to be successful we had to recruit there. There was too much talent right on our doorstep to not give it a shot."
Click here for the rest of the story: Darryl Webster goes from Coolidge to GW to proud father of a Harvard man