The first part of our Top 11 can be found here. Now, here’s numbers 6-2 of the Greatest Moments in Dawg Pack History.
6. The finger game; WSU vs. UW; January 23, 2005.
The event: “This is boring, Dick.” A seemingly harmless comment that sparked one of the greatest reactions of all time. Washington State head coach Dick Bennett, in response to that very quote and game-long chants of “Bo-ring!” and “A-A-R-P!” finally cracked under the pressure of the Dawg Pack in the first half of this 2005 matchup with the Huskies. When a student within earshot of the old man let his opinion on “Bennett Ball” be known, the mastermind himself could take no more and sent the students into a frenzy with one wayward finger.
The aftermath: The reaction was pandemonium, and onlookers with no clue as to what Bennett had just done must have figured someone had suffered a heart attack or unleashed a snake in the seats. Bennett, for what it’s worth, was quick to let down his middle digit and didn’t shy away from the heat he received after committing the heinous act. He apologized to the students during halftime and again after the game. In his annual trip to Seattle the following year, he graciously endured chants of “Mind your manners!” before doffing an imaginary hat to the crowd who had so cleverly gotten the best of him. Dick Bennett turned out to be a class act despite his actions, but couldn’t salvage a win on the day he let his emotions slip away. The Huskies, perhaps feeding off the fueled intensity of their home crowd, went on to knock off the Cougars 66-48.
The event: Senior Day, 2005 and a matchup between 14th-ranked Washington and ninth-ranked Arizona. The third Dawg Pack campout in an impressive lineage of sleepovers that have occurred since. After a restless night of hardly any sleep, gameday morning arrived while an antsy bunch of students eagerly awaited entry into Hec Ed.
Around 9:00 AM, one Erik “Peaches” Hansen whose name I will remember forever walked up to me and gave me the greatest gift a Husky basketball fan can give to another Husky basketball fan: an opponent’s phone number. Peaches had obtained the number of Arizona center Channing Frye, courtesy of a girl who had hung out with Frye once or twice in the past. Now, he entrusted those precious ten digits to me, Alex Akita.
“Well, I’m gonna call it,” I said, “we need to find out if this his really him.” So with a crowd of about 50 people surrounding me, awaiting to see exactly what would occur, I dialed the number and reached the voicemail of none other than Channing Frye himself.
“It’s him,” I said, “I’m gonna leave a message.” And so I did. An eight-minute long message, in fact, about how sorry I was that Arizona was going to lose to us, and how one day Channing might find a home in the WNBA, and how I liked his voicemail message but it needed more enthusiasm, and how if he ever wanted to make it in life he’d need to put on more weight, and on and on and on. I finished. I hung up. And mayhem ensued.
Every individual in sight began calling Frye’s number. “Hey Channing, you’re going down today…” “Frye, you’re a beyotch!” “How does it feel to lose to Washington, Channing?” “Channing, you’re ugly!” It was amazing. Like watching one domino knock over another, then another, then an entire room of dominoes falling down in perfect synchronization. We had entered uncharted territory and were about to make Channing Frye’s day absolutely miserable.
An hour later, I called Channing back. He had changed his voicemail message. This time it said something to the effect of, “This is Channing Frye…and I’m up at Washington whupping up on the Huskies!” Oh, Channing.
The aftermath: We entered the arena with Channing’s number written on a poster. People noticed. Members of the media would call the number and reveal in print later on that yes, those digits did indeed belong to Channing Frye. The Dawg Pack was validated.
Frye, who had received a number of those voicemails before the game began, took out his frustration on the court. He put up 30 points, but the Dawgs weren’t losing on Senior Day. Not on Will Conroy’s Senior Day, or Tre Simmons’; not even Hakeem Rollins’ or Alex Johnson’s. The Huskies rode the momentum to a 93-85 victory behind a rowdy home crowd.
After the game, reporters asked Frye if the students had pegged his number correctly. He said the area code was correct, but the number was wrong, but everyone knew he was lying. Later on, I apologized to the Wildcats center on Facebook and told him I hoped we hadn’t inconvenienced him too badly. “It’s all good,” he replied, “I really thought it was funny. I wish our student section would do some funny sh*t like that.” Did I ever mention that I’ve always liked Channing Frye?
The event: The Dawgs, having started the Pac-10 season 0-5, were coming off back-to-back victories, including a momentum-changing win at Oregon State that would turn their entire program around. Empowered by their recent successes, and fueled by an energetic crowd that sensed good things were about to happen, the Huskies went on to defeat the ninth-ranked ‘Cats 96-83 at Hec Ed. It was the first time the team had won three straight league games since 1999. Oh, and if you don’t remember the exact game, you may remember the beautiful offspring of Curtis Allen and Nate Robinson, an alley-oop dunk that brought the entire arena to its feet.
Nate Robinson from Curtis Allen
The aftermath: As soon as the final buzzer sounded, the Dawg Pack unleashed and headed straight for center court. It was the first time in recent memory that anyone could recall Husky basketball fans storming the playing surface. It was amazing.
The alley-oop dunk, which would become the lasting image of this game, finished the night as the #1 highlight on ESPN’s Top 10 and earned the Dawgs their initial national recognition of the year. The image of Nate’s dunk has become iconic to UW fans, and the Robinson family took the picture and plastered it across t-shirts that they wore for the remainder of the season.
3. Hernaaaaaandez; Stanford vs. UW; February 23, 2006.
The event: Let me start by saying that I love Chris Hernandez. I love his game, I love his attitude, I love his competitive fire, and I love to harass the guy. The thing about Hernandez is he plays the game so intensely, with so much passion, and does it so well that you really can’t help but pick on him.
While at Stanford, Hernandez was the floor leader of his Cardinal team and once a year, for four years, he would bring his squad to Seattle and endure a level of abuse from the Dawg Pack unmatched by any other opposing player. Really, the abuse was the same each time. Hernandez, a notorious head case, would bring about the taunting by stealing glances at the students. The students, sensing the attention being given to them by Hernandez, would respond by chanting his last name, often followed by “We’re in your head!” This tradition repeated itself in exclusive fashion over the course of Hernandez’s tenure.
The chanting of his surname was in itself unique. Like nails screeching on a chalk board, “Hernandez” came out in such wretched fashion that you couldn’t help but cringe upon hearing it belted out by a collective union of individuals. Credit Pack member Anthony Auriemma for decimating a name and turning it into a wailing siren of aural punishment. “Hernaaaaaaaaaaaaaandez…..Hernaaaaaaandez,” on an on, through timeouts, during warmups, and in-game. A whiny shrill only matched by the shrieks of banshees. “Hernaaaaaandez! We’re in your head!”
On February 23, 2006, it was Senior Night at Hec Ed…for Chris Hernandez, that is. It was Hernandez’s final visit to UW in his swan song of a senior season. The Pack, behind the inspiration of Anthony, put together a 14-letter sign that spelled out “Hernandez” (six “A’s”) on one side, and “We’re in your head!” on the reverse. A wonderful use of white tagboard.
The aftermath: With the front row emboldened by their cardboard lettering, shouts for Hernandez’s attention rained down on the Cardinal senior. All game long the verbal assault continued, rarely letting up and feeding energy into the home crowd.
By the time the game ended, the Huskies had prevailed, blowing Stanford out 75-57. Chris Hernandez, for his part, felt the pressures of the spotlight and finished with only nine points. It was one of only five times on the entire season that Hernandez would accrue fewer than 10 points in a game.
Some time later, I sent Chris a letter, thanked him for being a good sport through the years, and told him how much we respected him. He thanked me, and had this to say about the Dawg Pack: “I respect the Dawg Pack as well. You guys have become a powerhouse fan club in the PAC 10 since my freshman year. Even though I like Washington, I regret to say that I will have to try to my best to beat you guys at Maples.” Good guy, that Chris Hernandez.
2. Mexican Heritage Night; Oregon vs. UW; January 21, 2006.
The event: There are two versions to this story. The sugar-coated version, entitled “Mexican Heritage Night” and the explicit version entitled “Ernie Kent goes to Mexico to have an affair.” I’m going to give you the explicit version, because I love you guys.
To be P.C. about it all, we had to call this Mexican Heritage Night, a celebration of all things Mexico. But in reality, the night of January 21, 2006 was a big ol’ slight to Oregon head coach Ernie Kent. Ernesto, as he will now and forever be known, allegedly took a woman to Mexico in the summer of 2005 and had a week-long affair with her. Ernesto, however, is married with two kids, so what he allegedly did is commit adultery.
The allegations against Ernesto were largely kept quiet, save for an announcement by Kent, asking people to respect his family’s privacy during a moment of tribulation. Unfortunately, one group of rival fans found out about Kent’s “family issues” and did something about it. That’s right, we rounded up hundreds of sombreros, broke out our favorite Mexican phrases and songs, and unleashed the full wrath of the Dawg Pack on the Oregon coach who, just one year earlier, had suggested to the Pac-10 that the university consider moving our student section farther away from the court. Bastard.
The aftermath: The very moment that Ernie Kent first emerged from the bowels of the arena, he walked into his own personal version of hell. Facing a group of purple-clad twenty-somethings attired in the official headwear of Mexico, Kent was serenaded with sing-along versions of “The Mexican Hat Dance,” “La Cucaracha,” “Ole, Ole, Ole,” and the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo,” with “Kokomo” replaced by “Mexico.” During the opponent pre-game introductions, the Pack substituted their usual “Who cares” with a very fitting “No me importa.” Yep, Ernie had a bad day.
The greatest part of the day may have been when Will Conroy’s mom, a frequent visitor of the Husky student section and an honorary Dawg Pack member, put on her own sombrero and shouted over to Kent, who she had known from days gone by. Upon recognizing the voice, Ernesto slowly turned around, spotted Mrs. Dub-C singing with us, donning a sombrero, and made the most God-awful hilarious face known to man. Like a queasy, easily-frightened gentleman who had just seen a ghost. Words cannot fully explain it.
The day was an all-around UW victory, as the Huskies ended up knocking off the Ducks 71-59. Of all the Dawg Pack promotional events, it was this one that garnered the most attention, even getting airplay on SportsCenter and in national print. To this day, “Mexican Heritage Night” still exists, and always coincides with Oregon’s arrival in Seattle.