SAN DIEGO — One banner hangs on the north wall of the USD Sports Center, one banner signifying one West Coast Athletic Conference basketball title for the Toreros.
The year was 1983-84 and the coach was Jim Brovelli.
Brovelli, the coach of that championship Torero team, returned to San Diego Thursday night with the University of San Francisco and watched his Dons absorb a 72-39 defeat.
USF already has its share of WCAC banners, but it might be awhile before it adds another one.
"We knew it was going to take a couple of years to get this program back on its feet," said Brovelli. "The injuries we've had this year have hurt us. It's tough when you put two walk-ons and four freshmen out there."
USF, coming back after scandals caused the program to be discontinued after the 1981-82 season, certainly didn't resemble its powerful teams of the 1950's or the late 1970's Thursday night. In fact, the final score, as lopsided as it was, was deceiving. With two minutes to play, USF trailed, 68-28.
"We've certainly played better than this," Brovelli said, "but, unfortunately, losing tends to become a habit. Sometimes, we go out there and wait for bad things to happen to us." The Dons shot just 28% (14 for 51) from the floor in the game and committed 12 turnovers. USD had a 38-14 advantage in rebounding.
It seemed that even when USF did something right, things went wrong. At one point, forward Darrell Walker swooped across the key and blocked a layup attempt by USD's Nils Madden. It was a great athletic play except for one thing. Walker blocked the ball right into the basket.
"It's funny how basketball games go sometimes," said USD Coach Hank Egan, whose team improved to 6-4, 16-8. "I've been on that (losing) side like that before. You don't feel bad for the other team but you can understand what they're going through."
In the first half, USF actually controlled the game. The Dons used most of the 45-second shot clock to control the tempo.
The ploy worked for the first 12 minutes and USD appeared frustrated while putting up some shaky shots on its offensive end. With eight minutes remaining in the half, USF led, 12-9.
Mark Manor, however, came off the bench to spark USD's only run of the first 20 minutes. He scored on a three-point play and hit a jumper from the side to give USD an 18-14 lead. Paul Leonard hit one free throw and Danny Means hit two more in the final minute to give the Toreros a 21-14 halftime advantage.
"They did a good job of controlling us in the first half and we got a little antsy," Egan said. "Had we not been able to get that seven-point spread at halftime, it could have been a different story."
But it wasn't. USD scored the first 15 points of the second half, holding the Dons without a point until six minutes had elapsed. By the time Anthony Mann hit a shot from the corner, USF was behind, 36-16.
USF never found a way to control the Toreros' inside game, and 7-foot center Scott Thompson scored a game-high 18 points and pulled down 7 rebounds. Forward Nils Madden was the only other player in double figures, scoring 11.
Afterward, Brovelli took quite a while in the dressing room before coming out to meet the media. When he finally arrived, he talked about the banner.
"That's the school's banner and I'm just happy to have been a part of it," Brovelli said. "I'm just hoping losses like this will help us be more competitive. The experience has got to help us down the road."