Although Seattle University is in the early stages of transitioning back into Division I basketball, they actually have some history with the University of San Francisco who they play tonight at 8 p.m. in San Francisco.
Tonight's meeting as part of the nationwide Jesuit Basketball Spotlight will be the 26th all-time between the two teams. Perhaps their most famous meeting was took place on March 14, 1958, in the West Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Led by future Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, Seattle U earned a 69-67 victory on its way to the NCAA title game. After Seattle U swept two games from USF in the 1958-59 campaign, the two teams did not play again until Seattle U joined the West Coast Athletic Conference in 1971-72. USF dominated the conference meetings, winning 15 of the 18 contests over the nine-year span Seattle U was in the WCAC.
Both programs are familiar with success and both tout alums who went on to have successful NBA careers that helped them secure spots in the Hall of Fame, with USF proudly boasting current Washington resident Bill Russell as an alum. Both share similar values as Jesuit institutions, which only reinforces the belief that the WCC would be a great fit for Seattle University if they were invited. And now both teams are trying to re-establish themselves on the national scene with coaches who made names for themselves in the NCAA tournament.
USF is a little bit ahead of Seattle of course with coach Rex Walters having taken over in 2008 and immediately getting the program back on a path to success after only appearing in the post-season twice in the past 25 years. Walters has yet to produce a winning season in his two years, but finished fourth in the WCC last season and now has a team of his own recruits at his disposal.
Coming off a tough loss in their first-ever game against the University of Maryland, this figures to be a good barometer for where the Redhawks are at this point in the season as well as an opportunity to bounce back from a blowout loss with a win on the road. Junior forward Angelo Caloiaro is the USF's leading returning scorer after averaging 8.9 points per game. Last Sunday, the Dons defeated Menlo College in an exhibition game, 95-62, with Caloiaro leading the way with 17 points. Cody Doolin scored 15 points, and Rashad Green contributed 10 points and nine rebounds.
The game is the latest in a rather busy early-season stretch for the Redhawks. The team flew back to Seattle Tuesday morning after playing at Maryland Monday night, practice Wednesday, and then flew to San Francisco Thursday afternoon. The Redhawks face the University of San Francisco tonight, fly back to Seattle Saturday, and head right into their next game, the home opener against Cal Poly Sunday. The team will have two days of practice to prepare for Oregon State Wednesday, Nov. 17, and then they leave for Irvine, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 18, for the subregional round of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, with three games in three days.
The goal of the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight is to use Jesuit basketball to raise awareness of Jesuit education. Both Seattle University and the University of San Francisco are Jesuit schools. The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project highlights more than 90 games this season between men's and women's teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the United States. Each of the 28 is dedicated to strong academics and teaching women and men to serve others and live a faith that does justice.