The Tulsa Golden Hurricane opens their season this Saturday, October 27th, against the Emporia State Hornets in an exhibition game. The game is at 3:05 p.m. at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Emporia State is a pretty well-qualified opponent to be facing Tulsa during an exhibition game. The Hornets are a top division 2 basketball program from Emporia, Kansas that play the Kansas State Wildcats and the Kansas Jayhawks in basketball every year.
For Tulsa, the question remains, how will first year head coach Danny Manning lead his team to victory. Tulsa only returns five players from last year’s roster. The only returning starter is Scottie Haralson who averaged 11.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.9 three-pointers per game.
During Tulsa basketball media day last Wednesday, Manning told reporters that there’s a couple players that are starting to separate themselves from everyone else, but at this point each player would be in the rotation so Manning can move closer to choosing a starting lineup. “Scottie (Haralson) is the only player who always has a green light. We understand that he is one of the best shooters in the conference if not that nation and it’s our job to get him good looks at the basket,” said Manning.
Manning told reporters that no matter who is playing, he wants his players to push the tempo and get up and down the court in a hurry. This is a style that Manning most likely adopted from his time with the Jayhawks.
The fast tempo pace should benefit the Golden Hurricane this season since Tulsa is essentially starting from scratch. Manning gave credit to the tour of games the Golden Hurricane played in Canada back in August. Manning said that he honestly would have no clue where his team stands if he did not get to watch them play live opponents back then.
Tulsa also welcomes two freshmen guards from the Oklahoma City area. James Woodard, from Memorial High School in Edmond, averaged 16.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists and led his team to the Class 6A state championship as a senior. D’Andre Wright, from Eisenhower High School in Lawton, averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds as a senior. Both Woodard and Wright were rated as 3-star recruits by Rivals.com coming out of high school.
The expectations are high for coach Manning. Last December, ONEOK paid for a $2 million video board that stretches from three-point-arc to three-point-arc. The video board was modeled after Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas and is an exactly replica of the video board the Orlando Magic have. Then this summer, the university paid for a brand new playing floor to be used for basketball.
These upgrades to the Donald W. Reynolds Center are all an attempt to raise Golden Hurricane basketball back to national prominence. In the 1980′s and 1990′s, the Golden Hurricane made the NCAA Tournament almost every year. Their success rose when they made the Sweet 16 in 1994 and 1995, and their success culminated when Bill Self took the Golden Hurricane to the Elite 8 in 2000 (losing to the North Carolina Tar Heels).
However, when Self left for the Illinois Fighting Illini after the 2000 season, he seemed to take the success with him. The Golden Hurricane only qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2002 and 2003, and have not been back since. Nevertheless, if any coach could turn things around, Danny Manning would be the guy.
To get a glimpse of Tulsa during their open practice last weekend, click HERE