The Tulsa men's basketball team is set to face the University of Michigan in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton, Ohio, Wednesday at approximately 8:10 p.m.
But first, the team met with the media at the UD arena to discuss making the tournament and preparing for its upcoming challenge.
“We played a pretty decent schedule once you look back at it. We played some great teams. We have a great league,” said Golden Hurricane senior guard James Woodard, “We just fortunate to be here and we gon’ take advantage of this opportunity.”
In preparation, Tulsa went through a 40-minute practice session. During the session, Rashad Smith said that the team didn’t think they’d make the tournament.
“It wasn’t a good day,” stated Smith. “We were kind of just thinking about who we were gonna to play in NIT.”
After finding out they made the tournament later that day, Brandon Swannegan says he and the rest of the team met in the gym.
“I was on FaceTime with Dre, and he was like, “Bro we gotta go to the gym right now.” So, we went to the gym and that’s when we ended up celebrating.”
But not everyone was happy about TU making the tournament. Many bracketologists, 59 total, felt the Golden Hurricane shouldn’t have made it to Dayton.
“We saw comments about us, but we weren’t new to it,” said Smith.
And Tulsa Head Coach Frank Haith agreed with his senior forward.
“That’s been our deal all year. We can’t control what people are saying about us,” said Haith. “We’re just worried about the [controllable factors] and that’s how we prepare ourselves and how we get ready to compete.”
No matter what happens on Wednesday night, the Golden Hurricane are happy to have made it this far, especially having nine seniors on board.
“It’s a very special moment for us,” said Woodard. “You know, nine seniors, very veteran led team, you know, this being our, could be our last end of stretch of our season and careers and you know, it’s just a great opportunity for us. And we gotta use our veteran led team as an advantage in this tournament because, you know, we’ve been around a long time. We’ve seen every situation.”
Wolverines Head Coach John Beilein says he knows his team has a tough task ahead of them.
“I have much respect to the Tulsa program,” he said. “We’re playing against nine seniors. I don’t think we’ve had nine seniors total in the last four or five years together. So, there’s great amount of experience and we’re gonna to have to find a way to win despite that difference.”
Hopefully, that senior leadership will lead the Golden Hurricane past the First Four and onto the next round of the tournament.
If you are unable to make the game, it will be televised on TruTV (channel 51 in Tulsa).
Also, there will be a watch party at Fassler Hall in Downtown Tulsa (304 South Elgin). The Tulsa Chapter alumni hope that all TU basketball fans 21 and older join them in rooting on the Golden Hurricane.
This will be Tulsa’s 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and Michigans 26th.