For USC to be playing Seattle University in basketball is similar to Kansas playing Pomona-Pitzer. Only USC couldn't handle Seattle, an NAIA team, quite as easily Thursday night as Kansas handled Division III Pomona-Pitzer Tuesday night.
USC defeated Seattle, 68-40, in its home opener before an announced crowd of 3,176 at the Sports Arena. Kansas had beaten Pomona Pitzer, 94-38, at Lawrence, Kan.
Seattle was a power in the 1950s with Elgin Baylor and produced solid Division I teams through the 1960s and '70s. But things changed in 1980.
That's when school administrators decided to de-emphasize basketball, dropping from Division I to the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Bob Johnson, who became Seattle's coach in 1984, was an assistant under Marv Harshman at Washington and befriended USC's George Raveling when Raveling was at Washington State. As a favor to Johnson, Raveling put Seattle on the schedule.
Good thing, too. The Trojans needed a breather.
On a three-game trip to start the season, Raveling was counting on at least one victory. The Trojans returned home with none.
And, immediately after Thursday night's game, the Trojans boarded a plane for Birmingham, Ala., where they will play the University of Alabama (3-0) Saturday.
Against the Chieftains, a scrappy group that more resembles 10 Little Indians, the Trojans fell behind early.
"We came out a little too fired up," said Raveling, who had to be worried that his team was unraveling.
But after USC forward Chris Moore badly missed one layup, he came back to make another after taking a nice pass from Rich Grande, and that gave the Trojans the lead for good, 10-9, with 13:01 left in the first half.
Freshman Calvin Banks stole a pass at midcourt and drove for a layup to make it 29-17 with 4:11 left in the half.
It was 35-21 with 1:42 remaining after Banks, taking a lob pass from Dave Wiltz, made a nifty reverse layup. Two free throws by Wiltz rounded out the first-half scoring.
In the second half, USC led by as much as 57-33 after Andy Olivarez made a three-pointer with 6:53 remaining.
Leading scorer for USC was 6-9 sophomore center-forward Chris Munk with 15 points. He made 6 of 8 shots. Forward Bob Erbst, another 6-9 sophomore, had 11 points, and forward Ronnie Coleman, a 6-6 freshman who looked very strong on several dunk shots, had 10 points and 8 rebounds.
Moore, a junior who was headed to his hometown of Birmingham Thursday night, had an impressive slam midway through the second half, but finished with only four points.
Forwards Eric Peterson and John King each scored 10 points for Seattle.
USC out rebounded the shorter Chieftains, 50-33. And Seattle shot only 29.4% from the field, compared to 41.5% for USC.
"I'm not interested in how many points we won by, but the fact that we made some improvement," Raveling said.
"I'm surprised Seattle handled our pressure and played as well as they did."
Seattle's Johnson said: "Anyone who was watching in the stands knows that our kids can hustle. We made some mistakes and we're a very young team. I liked our intensity."
Seattle was 17-13 last season, when they played several Division I teams, including Georgia.
"The experience of playing a Division I team is good for us," Johnson said.
Seattle, as an NAIA school, offers no scholarships.
"One of our best players last year, Chris Church, would have been a senior this year," Johnson said. "But we lost him because he couldn't afford to come back to school."
USC forward Alan Pollard, a 6-9 transfer from BYU, who had arthroscopic surgery Nov. 16, played briefly in the second half but did not score.
Said Raveling: "I'm amazed that he could play. He got tired quickly, but it was good for him psychologically. I don't think he will be a factor in the Alabama game, but he might spell someone for a bit."