Some people may not see any connection between USC's 17-13 upset win over UCLA in football and the Trojan basketball team, but George Raveling does.
"Football success spills over into the other sports," Raveling said. "That game was not just a victory for USC football. It was a victory for USC athletics.
"A game like that inspires you to work harder, to recapture the athletic heritage that USC has enjoyed for so many years."
Raveling isn't the sort to miss a motivational opportunity. When his basketball team assembled Sunday for practice, Raveling talked at length about Rodney Peete.
He specifically referred to the USC quarterback saving a touchdown by chasing and catching UCLA's Eric Turner after the defensive back intercepted Peete's pass on the last play of the first half.
"That was the big play of the game," Raveling said. "I told my kids that was a perfect illustration of a never-give-up attitude and turning a negative into a positive."
Raveling anticipates that he'll turn a negative into a positive this season with the basketball team.
USC finished last in the Pacific 10 in 1986-87 with a 4-14 record, 9-19 overall.
"I would be utterly shocked if we ended up in the cellar again," Raveling said.
In only his second season and with his first full recruiting class, Raveling has almost completely altered the team. He has brought in seven new players, who will complement some returning veterans, along with three players who sat out last season.
The veterans are forward Bob Erbst, center Chris Munk, and guards Rich Grande and Brad Winslow.
Raveling's recruits are Calvin Banks, Ronnie Coleman, Duane Cooper and Johnny Holmes, all freshmen, and three junior college transfers--Andy Olivarez, Chris Moore and Robert Hooper.
Three players couldn't play last season for various reasons:
--Guard Dave Wiltz was declared academically ineligible because of a transcript problem after USC's first game.
--Guard Anthony Pendleton was a Proposition 48 casualty after an All-American prep career at Northwestern High in Flint, Mich.
--Forward Alan Pollard had to sit out a season after transferring from Brigham Young. Pollard also had arthroscopic knee surgery recently but is expected to be ready to play in January, if not sooner.
A 103-75 exhibition win over the Bulgarian national team last week isn't sufficient evidence that USC has improved.
More will be known about the Trojans after they play third-ranked North Carolina Friday night in a first-round game of the Central Fidelity Holiday tournament at Richmond, Va.
Still, Raveling is optimistic.
"At this point, it's obvious that we can score points," he said. "We're a far better shooting team than we were last year.
"One of our goals is to be the best three-point shooting team in the league. As a team, we may take 30 three-point shots a game.
"I think some of our scores will be like the NBA. I don't know if we can stop anybody else, but I don't know if they can stop us."
USC was the worst-shooting team in the conference last season, making only 42% of its shots.
It's obvious, even in practice, that Raveling has better shooters now, notably Pendleton, who made 7 of 12 from three-point range against Bulgaria.
Raveling plans to use 10 players a game this season because of a pressing, up-tempo style of play.
"We want to make fatigue a factor and you have to have the depth to do it," Raveling said. "We're three deep at every position except center."
Raveling is starting Wiltz, a senior, and Pendleton, a sophomore, at guards. Erbst, a 6-foot 9-inch junior, is paired with another junior, the 6-8 Moore, from Birmingham, Ala., at forward, with Munk, a 6-9 sophomore from San Francisco at center.
Others who are expected to play frequently are guards Winslow, Grande, Cooper and Olivarez; Banks, a 6-6 forward from Toledo, Ohio, and Coleman, a 6-6 forward from Dominguez High in Compton and Hooper, a 6-9, 29-year-old forward from Birmingham.
"Even though we have so many kids from out of state, I'm amazed because it's one of the most closely knit teams I've ever coached," Raveling said.
There are some areas that need attention, though, according to Raveling. "Our defense," he said. "And they have yet to convince me that they'll be a dominant rebounding team. But the defense doesn't greatly concern me. It's easier to motivate and instruct players to play defense than it is offense."
Raveling said that Banks is the player who has surprised him the most since practice started Oct. 15.
"He has exceeded my expectations," Raveling said. "I didn't expect him to contribute as quickly as he has. Right now, he's playing the best of the freshmen.
Some of Raveling's capsule observations of his other players:
Wiltz--"He's as good an athlete as we have on the team."
Pendleton--"In high school, he was the most celebrated second guard in the country. He only played in three losing games as a four-year starter in high school."
Munk--"He's probably the player we'd least like to lose. If we are going to be any good, he has to be a factor for us on the boards. He's a lot more relaxed now, knowing that he's starting. Last year, he was concerned about making mistakes."
Erbst--"The best thing that happened to him was that we got some other people to play that position. With less minutes he'll be more productive."
Moore--"He's a fine prospect. It's hard for me to believe that anyone in the league recruited a better forward than him. He can run all day. The big question with him is his defense and if he can take a physical pounding."
Winslow--"No one has worked any harder. I'm immensely impressed with his work habits and his attitude."
Grande--"It will be easier for him this season because there isn't as much pressure on him. There are others to share the scoring load."
Olivarez--"He's one of the best no-name no-reputation players in the country. I like his mental toughness, his defensive ability, and he's an excellent three-point shooter."
Cooper--"If there's anybody who is a better athlete than Wiltz, it's Cooper. He had phenomenal times in all our conditioning tests. My only concern is his ability to shoot from outside."
Coleman--"He combines strength and quickness. I'd be surprised if he doesn't cause a lot of excitement before he graduates."
Raveling doesn't seem to be concerned that his young team is opening against a traditional college basketball power, North Carolina, on a "neutral" court in the South.
"This is an opportunity game to go against one of the best teams in country," Raveling said. "The worst scenario is that we get beat and reveal some glaring weaknesses that we'll continue to work on to get better.
"As I told our basketball team the other day, the football team found a way to win and if they can, so can we."
USC will play either Boston University or Richmond Saturday night in the Central Fidelity Holiday tournament. The Trojans will conclude their trip with a Monday night game against Virginia Tech at Blacksburg, Va. . . . Coach George Raveling said that his team will grow up in a hurry by opening the season with three games on the road. The Trojans will play Seattle Dec. 3 in the home opener at the Sports Arena. . . . Raveling said that he still hasn't received a decision from the NCAA about restoring a year's eligibility to guard Dave Wiltz.
Raveling said that he wants guard Anthony Pendleton to take 15 to 20 shots a game. He said that in practices and an exhibition game, Pendleton is shooting 68% from the three-point line. . . . Center Chris Munk is a more a forward than a center, but Raveling said that's not a liability because there aren't any real centers in the Pac-10. . . . Raveling said that he has told USC football Coach Larry Smith that he'll recruit for him anytime. He has also told quarterback Rodney Peete that he is saving a spot on the team for him as a point guard.