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Originally published June 17, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 30, 2007 at 9:01 PM

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11-foot Exhibition | Drama level doesn't reach heights of higher baskets

The score in this game didn't really matter. Good thing, because there was zero drama in a 90-60 win for the Gold team against the Black...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The score in this game didn't really matter. Good thing, because there was zero drama in a 90-60 win for the Gold team against the Black in a basketball exhibition at Edmundson Pavilion on Saturday.

What mattered instead was the game itself, which was played on 11-foot hoops with no dunking and no three-point shots allowed until the fourth quarter.

It was an experiment staged by former Sonics assistant Tom Newell to show that maybe basketball would be better with a little tweaking. Newell said he was more than satisfied with what he saw, saying afterward, "This will happen again."

What fans thought was harder to tell. An estimated 800 showed up, but with little rooting interest in either team and a lopsided result, there was little atmosphere.

Washington fans in attendance probably spent a lot of the game with an eye on Spencer Hawes. He watched much of the contest from behind a basket, and spent a good portion of the second half talking with Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar.

If the two talked about Hawes' impending decision to stay at UW or leave for the NBA, neither was saying. Hawes, who is widely expected to turn pro, said only that he is still thinking about it. The deadline to pull out of the draft is Monday afternoon.

Between interviews, Hawes watched a little of the game and concluded that he didn't think the NBA was ready for the 11-foot change.

"It's interesting," he said. "But I don't think it will catch on. It's not as much fun to watch without the athleticism factor."

Romar, meanwhile, was curious enough to shoot around himself for a while and said, "If you practice long enough, it's not that big of a change. You could adjust to it if you are a shooter. If you are not a shooter, it's going to become more evident that you are not a shooter.

"I think the shots around the basket require more of an adjustment. People say it takes the athlete out of the game, but I disagree. I think if you are an athlete, you are still going to be faster and quicker to the ball than other guys."

The game's stats yielded some mixed results. Newell said he thought the rule changes would mean more passing and teamwork to get the ball inside.

Former Husky Brandon Burmeister, a member of the Black team, said that did indeed occur. "There was more of an emphasis to get it in there," he said.

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But only the Gold team could take advantage, shooting 53.7 percent from the field, compared to 32.3 percent for the Black. While three-pointers counted only in the final quarter, they were charted all game, and the two teams combined for 38 three attempts out of 129 total shots.

The teams also combined for 43 turnovers in 48 minutes. That didn't surprise Jim Harrick, the former UCLA coach who coached the Gold team. The two teams — comprised mostly of former local college players, mixed in with a few current lower-division college players — had been together just five days.

Brayden Billbe, a former Mercer Island High star who played at American University, led all scorers with 20 points for the Gold. Burmeister led the Black with 10.

"It's definitely been an interesting experience," Burmeister said. "I think we'd have to see some NBA players test it out over a longer period of time. I think if you experiment with them, it would be a better gauge if this is the right thing to do."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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