Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Overall Rank: #108
Conference Rank: #5 C-USA
2006-07: 20-11, 9-7, 4th (t)
2006-07 postseason: none
Coach Doug Wojcik is doing something right at Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane continue to improve and this year will be no different. Yet, with an improved conference, that does not necessarily mean a better record for Tulsa. The team went 11 deep in 2006-2007 and eight of those players return, so there is no lack of experience on this squad, but a few frontcourt defections should have Tulsa fans worried.
All four players heading out are forwards. Charles Ramsdell and Darold Crow have run out of eligibility after posting successful senior campaigns. Ramsdell averaged 6.5 points and 4.2 rebounds, while Crow added 7.3 points and 3.7 boards. Jamel McLean had major potential to have a breakout season, but he will wait a year and save his potential for the Musketeers of Xavier. McLean was a solid shot blocker for Tulsa and averaged 6.0 points and 4.8 rebounds. Seldom used Sean Coleman has also transferred after his freshman year and could have played a bigger role in 2007-2008.
A couple newcomers will provide some much needed depth under the basket. Bishop Wheatley redshirted last year after earning five starts as a freshman in 2005-2006. At 6-6, Wheatley does not have the ideal size for a power forward, but he is bruiser who will battle in the paint and get on the glass. Incoming freshman Steve Idlet is a dynamic forward. The 6-9 Prairie Grove, Arkansas native will be a force on the defensive end and will do a bit of everything on the offensive side of the floor. His ability to step outside and hit the jumper is something that the returning big men cannot do and if he can manage to find some minutes this year, his ability to stretch the defense will open up the entire Tulsa offense. On the perimeter, Glenn Andrews and Justin Hurtt will be quality scorers before their time is up with the Golden Hurricane. Andrews is a good shooter and, once he masters putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket, will be a good player. Hurtt is pretty much the opposite of Andrews and will provide some fantastic finishes this year, but needs to work on his shooting.
Who to Watch:
Both of the newcomers in the backcourt will have time to develop their games with the amount of talent returning. After spending two years at junior college and one year on the sidelines at the Reynolds Center with a foot injury, Rod Earls exploded onto the C-USA scene and earned third-team all-conference honors. As a senior, Earls should improve on his 11.2 points per game, but it will be tough for anybody to shoot any better than his 40.8 percent from behind the arc. Ben Uzoh had an amazing freshman campaign, averaging 9.9 points and a team high 5.0 rebounds. However, those numbers do not do him justice. The 6-3 guard is also a good passer and a solid defender in both the block and steal departments. Wing Ray Reese is probably the second best shooter on the team behind Earls and will provide a spark off the bench. With senior Brett McDade filling the leadership role and Mark Hill building off of a successful freshman campaign at the point, there is no lack of options for Coach Wojcik on the perimeter.
The talent is not quite as good up front, but there is a trio of players returning who started at least ten games a year ago. Power forward Calvin Walls, who played briefly at Wichita State, is a decent scoring option when not in foul trouble. Sam Mitchell, a 6-9 junior, and seven-footer Jerome Jordan will split time at the center spot. Jordan only averaged 7.8 minutes per game as a freshman, but developed quite nicely for a relatively raw big man. With a year of experience under his belt, he could progress into a dominating center.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Brett McDade, Senior, Guard, 6.8 points per game
Rod Earls, Senior, Guard, 11.2 points per game
Ben Uzoh, Sophomore, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Calvin Walls, Senior, Forward, 5.9 points per game
Sam Mitchell, Junior, Center, 4.5 points per game