Grant Myers remembers walking into the University of Washington Pavilion on Dec. 27, 1927, and thinking, "This is the biggest place I've ever been in."
Myers, 81, was in a unique minority yesterday in a university celebration to honor and remember the 71-year-old arena. The 2-acre all-purpose facility, renamed Clarence "Hec" Edmundson Pavilion in 1948 to recognize the school's winningest coach, was closed temporarily after yesterday's UW-WSU game.
The interior of the arena will undergo a $39 million renovation over the next 18 months.
Myers was on hand for the final game this century and one of the few who witnessed the first one. The Huskies defeated Illinois 34-23 in the opening game.
"The games were so slow back then because after every basket, there was a jump ball," said Myers, who lives in Northgate. "Games took too long."
But he said the community greatly anticipated the facility. He said it shows how far this area's economy has come. In the 1920s, it cost $600,000 to build, "and now they're using $39 million to renovate it."
Myers, who attended Green Lake Elementary, John Marshall Middle School, Roosevelt High and UW, has been a Husky basketball and football season-ticket holder for most of his life.
Memories of Wooden
More than 50 former players gathered for the pregame celebration at the Pavilion Addition. Among the players were 15 who played for Coach Edmundson (1921-47), including William Estep (1932-33).
Four individuals addressed the gathering: Chester Dorsey (1974-77); Bob Houbregs (1951-53), the second-leading scorer all-time; Rhonda Smith, the second-leading women's scorer; and Coach Marv Harshman, the second-winningest coach.
Dorsey said a face lift for the place is a bit overdue.
"When I was being recruited in 1973," he said, "we were supposed to get a new gym then."
He added that his greatest thrill in the arena was the 1975 upset of UCLA, Bruin Coach John Wooden's last career loss. The Bruins later advanced to their 10th NCAA title.
"It was the first time I can remember the crowd not leaving during a blowout," Dorsey added.
Harshman pointed out that he was one of the few coaches to beat Wooden the first and last times he coached against him. "But we won't talk about the in-between."
Houbregs, who finished his career with 1,774 points, said during the long practices at Edmundson Pavilion, it was UW Coach Tippy Dye who taught him how to shoot his trademark hook shot. "That was the shot that made my career," he said.
Harshman added, "It was the greatest hook shot the game has ever known. It was not unusual for him to take it deep in the corner. And he would make it most of the time."
Harshman likes the plans for the interior. "The new one," he said, "might have a `pit' effect. I hope it slants that way. And they haven't taken away the dignity of the building."
Kicking up dirt
The original floor in the pavilion was dirt. Because it was not covered with concrete, moisture would make the basketball floor slippery and dangerous. A specially designed plywood finally solved the problem.
In the building's early years, the natural setting was a big hit, with horse shows, dog shows and Boy Scouts and Campfire Girls sleep-overs. One year the Campfire Girls did just that, built campfires. New fire codes after that restricted indoor fires.
Games of the century
There have been dozens of intense and significant games played at the Pavilion, including NCAA title games in 1949 and 1952. Other significant games include the Huskies' 69-68 win over No. 1 UCLA in 1975 and Seattle University's 84-81 win over the Harlem Globetrotters in 1952. But none could match the improbability of the Huskies' 74-69 upset of No. 12 Arizona in 1994. The Huskies, who finished that season with the school's fewest wins (five) since 1918, were off to an 0-8 start in conference play.
The Huskies were without Jamie Booker, sent home with the flu. But reserve guard Jason Tyrus had the game of his life, scoring a career-high 20 points, as the Huskies held on for the upset.
Arizona, with Damon Stoudamire, Reggie Geary and Khalid Reeves, advanced to the Final Four that season.
-- In 1927, the player credited with making the first basket was UW senior Alfie Schuss. For the record, Deon Luton scored the last basket of the 20th century at the Pavilion. And it was probably the prettiest of the day, an alley-oop dunk from Senque Carey with 16 seconds left.
-- UW has won 16 of its last 17 games at home.
-- Todd MacCulloch scored 32 points - the eighth 30-plus game of his career and 47th in Pavilion history. MacCulloch is third on the Husky career scoring list with 1,732 points.
-- Carey's five assists give him 92, third on the school list for freshmen.