SEATTLE (AP) -Maybe it's time to start rethinking this ``transition year'' for Seattle University.
What was expected to be a season of headaches and obstacles for the Redhawks has instead turned into a promising first campaign in Seattle's return to Division I basketball after nearly three decades playing at lower levels.
Now comes Seattle's home showcase for the 2008-09 season - a New Year's night home game at Seattle's KeyArena against Loyola Marymount, the Redhawks first home game against a Division I foe since the school dropped from Division I in 1980.
The marquee game comes against the team Seattle last played at the Seattle Center Coliseum - which later became KeyArena - before the Redhawks dropped from Division I sports.
``I think the people are starting to realize, including the players, that we are a good team, we're a really good team,'' Seattle coach Joe Callero said. ``We're playing really good talent but we're a really good team that can sustain it. This is not a fluke.''
dhawks biggest home game comes with the added attraction of what has been a successful first two months for Seattle. Callero started the season with a set of modest goals for his team that could be obtained with sustained improvement through the season.
Then the Redhawks (7-5) went and won their opener at the Great Alaska Shootout, beating Louisiana Tech for Seattle's first win over a Division I opponent since in 28 years. They took Portland State - who won at Gonzaga in December - to the final minute on the Vikings home floor, and was within two at Oregon State with only a few minutes to go last Monday night.
But the highlight of Seattle's transition year so far was a two-game road trip to California, where the Redhawks won at Cal Poly 60-59 on a last-second basket by Drew Harris and accomplished another first - their first road win as a Division I team over a Division I team. They followed up two nights later with a 55-52 win at UC Irvine.
``All our accomplishments are kind of monthly based. We've concluded kind of the first three chapters of our goal sheet, and we've met or exceeded every goal this season,'' Callero said.
of Seattle's five losses
Callero is hoping that defensive focus is only amplified against LMU, which is 0-14 and hasn't been within 20 points in its last three losses. Callero's main concern is the Redhawks experiencing an atmosphere unlike they've enjoyed at their tiny on-campus gym, with a crowd of 4,000 to 5,000 expected at the former home of the SuperSonics.
The fear for Callero is that the heightened excitement might make his players try too hard at the offensive end where the effort really needs to be defensively.
``Playing harder on offense does not necessarily reap any benefits. ... There has to be some patience on offense and energy and passion on defense,'' Callero said. ``(Problems) usually rear its head on the offensive end trying to do too much. (But) I would love having that energy on defense and rebounding.''

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