As the 2012-13 season approaches, we'll count down the days to the first game with a look back at some memorable games in USF basketball history. These may not be the most famous games and they may not be the most crucial to the development of the program. But they are 15 mileposts that helped to get us to where we are, and each is worth looking back at.
January 20, 1984
DePaul 59, USF 50
The Sun Dome
By JIM LOUK
TAMPA - You might look at the score and the opponent and wonder why this game made our list. It wasn't a win for the Bulls, and after all, USF plays DePaul all the time.
But things were a lot different in 1984.
The Bulls and DePaul had only played once before, and the Blue Demons had never come to the Sun Dome.
DePaul was at the height of its power. Coach Ray Meyer was a national icon, and the Blue Demons were a threat to win the national championship year after year. On this date, they came to Tampa undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the nation.
And ESPN was in town to broadcast this game. Twenty eight years ago, that was big news. ESPN was only 5 years old at the time, and its college basketball coverage had nowhere near the reach it does today. National TV for a basketball game from the Sun Dome wasn't unheard of, but it was rare.
And finally, there were the circumstances. There was a celebrity crowd in the sold-out Sun Dome. Familiar faces were everywhere; athletes, entertainers, politicians. Every football legend or icon you could imagine was there that night. The game had been scheduled as part of Super Bowl Weekend. Just two days later, Tampa Stadium would host Super Bowl XVIII, the first to be held in Tampa.
I broadcast a lot of basketball games in the Sun Dome, but only once did James Garner of "Rockford Files" fame sit near me. It was that kind of night. It was like watching for the most interesting commercials in the Super Bowl broadcast. You often wanted a stoppage of play so you could scan the crowd to see who you could see. Garner and 10,258 others were in the building that night.
And don't discount the home team in all of this; the Bulls were on their way to a solid 17-win season under Lee Rose. They were 9-5 as they prepared to face the Blue Demons. DePaul was still an independent and was 13-0 in what would turn out to be the last year at the helm for Ray Meyer.
Tyrone Corbin, Dallas Comegys and crew against Charlie Bradley, Jim Grandholm, Tommy Tonelli and the Bulls.
The game? A very good battle. USF put up a good fight keeping it close all the way. No moral victories, but for the still very young USF program, it was a good showing on national TV. DePaul held on for a 59-50 win.
The Bulls would finish the season 17-11. DePaul would end up 27-3, not losing until its 18th game of the season. DePaul was ultimately eliminated in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Semifinal by Wake Forest, ending Ray Meyer's remarkable 42-year run with the Blue Demons.
The Bulls and DePaul have had some great games in the Big East, but few have been more memorable than the game played in the circus atmosphere of the Super Bowl; two strong teams in front of a star-studded crowd.