Tulsa Basketball Preview: #38
Overall Rank: #38
Conference Rank: #2 Conference USA
2008-09: 25-11, 12-4
2008-09 postseason: NIT
Coach: Doug Wojcik (81-53 at Tulsa, 81-53 overall)
Two years ago it was the CBI for Tulsa. Last season it was the NIT. The absence of forward Ray Reese, who averaged 10.2 points and was the team’s defensive stopper, will hurt, but this group can make up for the defensive loss with a little more offensive firepower. Coach Doug Wojcik is turning this program around in a hurry and the Golden Hurricane will be the team who can take Memphis off its perennial perch atop the conference.
Key Losses: C Sam Mitchell, F Ray Reese
Tulsa is a team full of upperclassmen, so the incoming freshmen will not be asked to do too much, but getting some production from this group would help keep the program growing even after some of the superstars are gone. Point guard Donte Medder should be running the show next year and could play a big role off the bench next season. Bryson Pope is a big wing who will give the team some much needed rebounding help from the perimeter and Kodi Maduka, who may need some time to develop, could turn into a solid big man eventually.
Ben Uzoh is the star of the backcourt. The 6-3 point guard averaged 14.0 points, 3.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds during his junior campaign. His senior season should be even better. Uzoh is certainly not a true point guard, but he is a good defender and his ability to hit the glass is impressive. If Uzoh struggles to handle the ball, Coach Wojcik can look to Glenn Andrews. The 6-2 junior is not much of a shooter, but he can score around the basket. Justin Hurtt, who split starting time with Andrews last season, is the shooter of the bunch. Hurtt connected on 39.0 percent of his attempts from long range and he needs to keep shooting well since Reese will not be around to stretch out the defense.
The frontcourt returns its two big guys in Bishop Wheatley and Jerome Jordan. Wheatley will not score very much, but he does do the dirty work under the basket. He is only 6-6, but he will use his 225 pound frame to overpower most opposing power forwards. When the Golden Hurricane need more size on the floor, they will call on Joe Richard and Steven Idlet. Richard, a 6-7, 235 pound sophomore, showed some promise during his freshman campaign despite averaging less than ten minutes per contest. Idlet, another sophomore, is 6-10 and will usually give Jordan a rest under the basket.
Who to Watch:
And it is Jordan who is the superstar of this team. Last season he tallied 13.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per contest. The 7-0, 250 pound senior deserves a lot more credit than he has gotten during his career in Tulsa. A solid senior season and a trip to the NCAA Tournament will change that.
There is only one postseason tournament this group is aiming for. Last year may have ended in minor disappointment, but the core group of this team is back and the entire projected starting five are upperclassmen. And this is a team that has a couple younger players on the roster who are ready to play a bigger role. Maybe Tulsa cannot surpass Memphis, but they can reach the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ben Uzoh, Senior, Guard, 14.0 points per game
Glenn Andrews, Junior, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Justin Hurtt, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Bishop Wheatley, Senior, Forward, 4.8 points per game
Jerome Jordan, Senior, Center, 13.8 points per game
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