Most coaches rule like dictators, but USC's George Raveling gives his players a vote in how the team will be run.
Before Thursday night's game against Oregon State, Raveling asked the Trojans if they would prefer to play a zone defense or a man-to-man against the Beavers. And the Trojans voted to play a man-to-man.
Playing tenacious man-to-man, the Trojans limited the Beavers to 38.2% shooting in the second half and won their second consecutive game, 85-75, before 3,521 at the Sports Arena.
"When someone buys into something, you've got a better chance of making it work," Raveling said of the vote. "They feel that playing a zone makes them lethargic. They feel they're more aggressive when they play man-to-man."
The Trojans appreciated Raveling's gesture.
"He's a players' coach and he gives us a lot of leeway as far as decision-making because we're the ones who have to go out there and perform," guard Harold Miner said. "Playing a zone you get mixed up in your assignments, but when you play man you know exactly what you have to do on the floor."
The Trojans made their defense work, as the Beavers missed 21 of 34 shots in the second half, including 10 of 14 three-point shots.
Only one Oregon State starter, forward Teo Alibegovic, shot 50%. Alibegovic, who had 22 points, made nine of 18 shots. But the Beavers' other four starters made 15 of 40 shots (37.5%).
"Playing a man defense gets you in the game," guard Duane Cooper said. "We were able to pressure their guards more. Coach Raveling likes to listen to us and I think it makes for better morale."
Although the victory assured USC (15-8 overall, 6-7 in the conference) of its first winning season in Raveling's five-year tenure and moved the Trojans to within a game of second place in the Pacific 10 standings, Raveling has a loftier goal--making the NCAA tournament.
"Getting a winning (record) is just the side of the mountain, not the top," Raveling said. "It's a secondary award, like getting Best Director, when the real award is Best Picture.
"Our concentration is the best it's been all season because the NCAA is right in front of us. If we win the rest of our home games (three) and split our road games (two), I'd be stunned if we didn't go to the NCAA."
Miner, who shot only 39% in his last 10 games, making 29% of his three-point attempts, hit his first three shots and scored the Trojans' first eight points.
"The shots were there so I took them, and they fell for me," Miner said. "You just keep shooting the ball, and eventually the shots are going to fall. I never get down on myself."
Miner, who had 15 points in the first half, finished with 26 points, making 10 of 22 shots, including four three-pointers. He also had 10 rebounds and four assists.
Ronnie Coleman added 21 points and Robert Pack had 18 points and 10 assists as the Trojans built a 22-point second-half lead before Raveling pulled his starters.
Leading by eight points at intermission, USC blitzed Oregon State, 22-8, in the first eight minutes of the second half to open a 69-47 lead when Phil Glenn hit a three-point shot with 12:13 left.
"If it was a question of trying to prove that we could maintain a 20-point lead, I just would have left the starters in," Raveling said. "But I think it's important to get these other kids ready."
Trailing, 41-32, with 6:27 left in the first half, Oregon State outscored USC, 7-0, to cut it to 41-39 on a layup by Alibegovic.
But the Trojans, who went 3:06 without scoring, scored 12 consecutive points at the end of the first half and the start of the second half to take control.
Oregon State Coach Jim Anderson, scheduled to undergo back surgery Monday, came onto the court in a wheelchair. Although the normal hospital stay is four or five days followed by a 10-week recuperation period, Anderson vows to return to practice Wednesday and plans to be on the bench Thursday against Arizona. . . . Former Oregon State Coach Ralph Miller attended the game. . . . Saturday, USC plays Oregon at 5 p.m. Oregon State (13-10, 7-6) plays at UCLA at 3 p.m.