By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Brendan Sherrer doesn’t want his story to end like that.
Not that he will have much choice.
When the least probable player — maybe ever — on the University of Washington men’s basketball team was on the floor for the final 90 seconds of Thursday night’s game against Arizona State, he let one pass slip through his fingers and tossed up an airball from 3-point range.
If that ends up being his final action at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, where the senior from Monroe has gone from a member of the student section to a UW player, Sherrer will be less than satisfied.
“You don’t want the last shot to be an airball,” said Sherrer, who ran back down the court chuckling Thursday night after missing the rim from 3-point range with 22 seconds left in a 77-69 win.
And so when Sherrer is in uniform for what may well be his final game at Hec Ed this afternoon — barring, of course, a home postseason game should the Huskies end up settling for a bid in the National Invitational Tournament — he’s hoping to get on the floor for some action.
Coach Lorenzo Romar, who has been known to give graduating seniors a start in their final home game, isn’t saying whether the little-used Sherrer will be out there for the opening tip. The Huskies’ head coach joked that talking about his starting lineup could give opponent Arizona an unfair advantage.
“I don’t want anyone to be able to game-plan for Brendan Sherrer if he’s in the starting lineup,” Romar quipped during his Tuesday press conference.
Of course, Romar wouldn’t mind seeing Sherrer on the floor when the final buzzer sounds. In what has to be one of the more remarkably fortunate statistics in recent college basketball memory, Sherrer takes an unbeaten record (29-0) in games in which he has played into his final few weeks as a UW player.
Sherrer, whose only playing time has come when UW has a huge lead, said he takes pride in that statistic.
“Of course,” said the man whom teammates nicknamed The Human Victory Cigar. “We’re winning. A win’s a win. It’s been a great experience.”
Asked whether he’ll mention his won-loss record as an older man, Sherrer said: “I’ll tell my friends and everybody.”
Sherrer’s incredible story has been oft-told, beginning with his uninspiring prep career at Archbishop Murphy High School (he averaged around six points and six rebounds as a senior, drawing interest only from junior colleges and an offer to walk on at the University of Portland), to the UW student section known as the Dawg Pack (he still has photos of himself cheering from the stands during his freshman year in 2008-09) and eventually earning a spot on the team after a walk-on tryout in 2009 (Sherrer’s 6-foot-8, 255-pound frame certainly helped on a team lacking big bodies).
“When you’re in the Dawg Pack, looking down, you always think: ‘Man, I want to be down there banging with those guys,” he said after Thursday’s game. “And then you get the opportunity? You just don’t turn that down.”
Sherrer still marvels at the journey, although he knows it might take a few years before he truly realizes what he was able to accomplish.
“Looking back on it, I know it’s going to be like: ‘Wow, that happened,’” he said, his eyes sparkling at the thought. “It doesn’t really feel like my last game yet. But it is.”
Sherrer might not have accomplished all of his goals as a player, but his basketball journey has taken him further than anyone could have expected. After closing out a blowout win over New Mexico in the 2010 NCAA tournament, he accomplished something that even ex-Husky Romar was unable to do — play in the Big Dance. He’s also forged friendships that he cherishes and is on track to earn a biology degree in the fall.
Of course, that means Sherrer could be back in the Dawg Pack when the Huskies’ 2012-13 season begins.
“I don’t know,” he said with a laugh. “We’ll see how that works out.”
Sherrer will be on the bench for one final home game today, and beforehand he’ll be honored while parents Kent and Nancy join him on the court. He said about 17 family members are scheduled to be at the game, and Sherrer wouldn’t mind giving them one last look at him in action.
Even if he doesn’t get onto the court this afternoon, Sherrer knows one thing about his three years as a UW player.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said, “and I don’t regret it.”
Sherrer is one of two seniors who will be honored before today’s game. The other is forward Darnell Gant, a fifth-year senior and key reserve. “It started to hit me in the second half” of Thursday night’s win over Arizona State, Gant said. “It’s crazy how long I’ve been here. And it’s almost over.” … A win today would all but knock Arizona out of the Pacific-12 Conference race. The Wildcats (19-8 overall, 10-4 in the Pac-12) trail first place UW (18-8, 11-3) and Cal by one game with four games to play.