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November 24, 2020
In a preview of the men's basketball season, Seattle Times sports reporter Scott Hanson writes, "This will be a season unlike any other for Seattle U men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford, and it isn’t just because the team is playing during a pandemic." Here are excerpts from the story.
“It’s year 22 as a head coach, and it’s the biggest turnover we’ve ever had,” said Hayford, who is in his fourth season at Seattle U. “There are a lot of new faces, but they are all playing well and I am encouraged with their progress. We have a really good freshman class and some talented junior-college players, so it’s time to bring the next batch through.”
The Redhawks, who open the season Wednesday at Idaho, have just four scholarship players back, and 78.6 percent of the points scored last year came from players who are gone. The biggest hit came when guard Terrell Brown, who averaged 20.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season, opted to play for Arizona as a graduate transfer.
“I am really proud of Terrell,” Hayford said. “He graduated and he did everything the right way. He felt that it was the best step to reach his career ambitions. My first and foremost goal with each guy is that they grow as a person, secondly, that they get their degree, and third, that we develop them on the basketball court. We checked all those boxes.”
“I think I know the seven or eight guys who are going to play the most, but what I haven’t figured out yet is what the right combinations between all of them are,” Hayford said. “You don’t get any scrimmages or exhibitions before your first game, so that is going to have to happen on the fly. We planned on doing a foreign tour this summer and we would get 10 extra practices and play five games and bond together, and all that got scrapped.”
Hayford expects the team to be much more balanced this season when it comes to scoring.
Hayford thought the Redhawks had a legitimate chance to make the NCAA tournament last year as the No. 3 seed in the Western Athletic Conference tournament, but that event was canceled after the team arrived in Las Vegas to play.
Hayford said he is enjoying being back on the court, working with a group he feels is talented, will shoot the ball better and has more depth. Seattle U was picked to finish fifth in the nine-team WAC and Hayford thinks the team could exceed those expectations.
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