Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Overall Rank: #106
Conference Rank: #5 C-USA
2007-08: 25-14, 8-8
2007-08 postseason: CBI
Tulsa culminated a successful 2007-2008 campaign by winning the inaugural CBI tournament. That was not the exact tournament the Golden Hurricane wanted to be in, but it is a good building block towards the future. And that future looks extremely bright under fourth year head coach Doug Wojcik. However, there might a small step backwards this year before Tulsa starts becoming a major player in Conference USA.
Brett McDade was never the most flashy point guard, but he was a steady floor leader, especially during his senior year. McDade, who shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc, was not a bad scorer either. Finding somebody to run the show as effectively as McDade will be a huge issue all year long. Fellow guard Rod Earls saw his production decrease last season, but he still started 18 games and averaged 6.4 points per contest. Calvin Walls will leave a huge hole at power forward. The 6-7, 235 pound Minneapolis, Minnesota product averaged 8.5 points and 7.2 rebounds during his senior campaign and the Golden Hurricane will have a lot of trouble replacing him.
But at least there are plenty of candidates to replace Walls. Newcomers Steven Idlet, Joe Richard, Armond Battle and Bassel Bawji will join returnee Sam Mitchell for minutes at the four spot. Idlet, a 6-9 220 pound redshirt freshman, has the most potential to help out right away. Idlet can step outside and stretch the defense with his outside shooting ability, but he is also getting to be strong enough to effectively battle in the paint. Once he puts it all together, which a year on the bench would help, Idlet can be a very effective player. The tough and athletic Richard will hit the glass strong and Battle will add plenty more to the team. Ideally, Battle is a small forward, but he can play the four if necessary. The 6-6 Plymouth, Minnesota native is a great athlete who can knock down the mid-range jumper with consistency or get to the basket. The other need that was addressed by Coach Wojcik with this class is at point guard. Adrian Hernandez and Brandon Jackson have to fill the void left by McDade. Hernandez has the experience after spending some time at Monterey Peninsula College in California. At 6-3, he has the size to make space for himself and the defensive tenacity to cause problems for the conference’s top scorers. The lefty is a pass first point guard, but he can score. He will simply look to involve his teammates first and that is exactly what Tulsa needs. Jackson, another lefty, is 6-5 and is full of potential, but this will be Hernandez’s team for now.
Who to Watch:
If Hernandez and Jackson need some time to adjust, the Golden Hurricane will be in trouble. If junior Ben Uzoh has to bring the ball up court, Tulsa’s best scorer would be less effective. Uzoh averaged 15.6 points per game last year and most of that damage was done by getting to the rim. Uzoh can hit the outside shot and he will grab more than his fair share of rebounds, but his most important asset is being the team’s go-to-scorer and he does that by driving the lane. Glenn Andrews can hit the three-pointer as well, but his 32.9 shooting percentage from long range was no better than Uzoh’s. Still, Andrews will be the shooter off the bench who can also score in other ways.
The frontcourt is slowly turning into a strength. Small forward Ray Reese emerged during his junior year and averaged 7.7 points and 3.7 rebounds. Reese will not put up huge numbers on any given day, but center Jerome Jordan will. The seven-footer had a breakout campaign in 2007-2008 and tallied 10.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per contest. His presence on both ends of the floor has turned Tulsa from a middle of the pack team to a potential conference winner…or at least second place.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Adrian Hernandez, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Ben Uzoh, Junior, Guard, 15.6 points per game
Ray Reese, Senior, Forward, 7.7 points per game
Steven Idlet, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Jerome Jordan, Junior, Center, 10.5 points per game