The Huskies have 999 wins at Alaska Airlines Arena, formerly known as Hec Edmundson Pavilion. They could clinch win No. 1,000 against Cal on Saturday.
It took 92 years, a dozen coaches and a long list of players to carry the Washington men’s basketball team to the brink of a historic milestone.
The Huskies amassed 999 wins at Alaska Airlines Arena, which is affectionately known as Hec Edmundson Pavilion or “Hec Ed” to UW fans.
It’s the most wins for an NCAA team at its current arena and a victory Saturday afternoon against California would give Washington 1,000.
“I’ve learned so much about the Huskies, the great teams, the great players and the great coaches and the thing I can tell you is, it’s got a lot of history,” said UW’s second-year coach Mike Hopkins. “To be able to be a part of some of it and to be this close to 1,000 wins at one facility is just incredible.
“I was a part of a lot of great moments at the other school that I was at, and we’ll be honored to be a part of the great history here. A thousand wins is just almost unfathomable.”
Built in 1927 for $600,000, the original University of Washington Pavilion was an all-purpose field house for the school’s seven men’s and women’s athletic teams.
It’s the third-oldest college basketball arena in the nation behind Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym (1925) and the Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania, which was built 12 months earlier than Hec Ed.
Hec Ed has played host to the NCAA tournament Final Four in 1949 and ’52. President John F. Kennedy delivered a commencement address there in 1961, and the Grateful Dead performed there in ‘74
The Seattle Sonics played at Hec Ed on three different occasions, including two 1987 playoff games. And the Storm will play there the next two years.
“It’s next door to one of the greatest settings in college football as they like to say and next to Husky Stadium, which has an allure and has a notoriety, Hec Ed looks kind of unassuming from the street,” said PA announcer Eric Radovich, who has been calling UW men’s games since 1995. “But you get inside and it’s dug down, and you get down to that floor, and it’s a timeless building.
“It looks like a college gymnasium. It makes me think of Hoosiers. It’s a field house with big windows and super high ceilings. … Before the renovation there were pillars that blocked your view from different locations, but it was part of the charm of the building depending on where you were sitting.”
When compiling a list of the great venues in college basketball, aficionados might start with Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium and include Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, Syracuse’s Carrier Dome and the Palestra.
“I’ve been to a lot of places and (during) the Arizona game last year, my kids said, ‘Dad, that was the loudest that I’d ever been at a game,’ ” Hopkins said. “The potential and what this place has done is incredible.”
Hopkins, who spent the previous 22 years as a Syracuse assistant, is the latest in a long line of UW coaches that includes Clarence ‘Hec’ Edmundson, Tippy Dye, Marv Harshman and Hopkins’ predecessor, Lorenzo Romar.
Perhaps quicker than anybody expected, Hopkins is making Alaska Airlines Arena a feared venue where the Huskies are 9-0 this season.
This could also be a historic season in many ways for Washington (13-4, 4-0 Pac-12), which is looking to snap an eight-year NCAA tournament drought.
“It’s very special to be standing here on the shoulders of the great men who came before me,” Hopkins said. “I don’t take it lightly. … Speaking of not just them, but the past players and our fans, I hope they’re proud of the job that we’re doing and what we represent for them.”