Tulsa fans are invited to come out and watch the first official TU men’s basketball practice Saturday morning from 8:30-10 a.m. at the Donald W. Reynolds Center, as the Golden Hurricane officially begins preparations for the 2015-16 season.
Fans attending the open practice should enter the Reynolds Center through the doors on the upper west concourse (west side, facing H.A. Chapman Stadium). The open practice will take place prior to the Tulsa-Houston football game at 11 a.m. at Chapman Stadium.
As Tulsa begins preseason practice for its 105th season of basketball, it welcomes back 11 players, including all five starters from last year’s team that finished second in the American Athletic Conference and advanced to the second round of the NIT. Seven players saw the floor for at least 16 minutes per game last season, and all seven players return for 2015-16. The Hurricane is heavy on experience this year, with nine seniors and two juniors on the squad.
Leading scorers James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison are back to anchor the Tulsa backcourt. The senior guard tandem combined to average 27.6 points per game – 43 percent of the team’s scoring. Woodard led the Hurricane with 14.5 points and 88 3-pointers, while adding 4.9 rebounds per contest on his way to first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors. Harrison compiled a breakout season, scoring 13.1 points, with 5.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game, earning second-team all-conference honors.
Marquel Curtis, Rashad Ray and Nick Wood round out the senior backcourt for the Golden Hurricane. Curtis started 27 games, and tallied 7.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.6 steals per game. Ray earned seven starts, while seeing action in all 34 games, and put up 7.5 points, 2.9 assists and a 2.5 assist/turnover ratio. Wood saw action in four games last year.
Seniors Rashad Smith, D’Andre Wright, Brandon Swannegan and Emmanuel Ezechinonso hold down the post for TU. Smith scored 8.4 points, and led the team with 6.0 rebounds per game, while Wright averaged 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest. Swannegan saw an increased role on the court, earning 10 starts and 16.7 minutes per outing, and he put up 3.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and totaled 49 blocks. Ezechinonso saw action in 13 games.
Junior TK Edogi also saw an increased role, with 7.4 minutes of action per game, and tallied 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. Guard Corey Haith is available at TU for the first time this year, after redshirting last year following his transfer from the University of Missouri.
Tulsa welcomes four newcomers to the team for 2015-16, including: juniors Pat Birt and Junior Etou, and freshmen Kajon Brown and Sterling Taplin. Birt, a native of Plano, Texas, is a 6’5” guard from South Plains College in Texas. He averaged 11.5 points and 3.9 rebounds, and knocked down 66 3-pointers in 21.7 minutes over 32 games last year at SPC.
Brown, a 6’4” guard, averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game last season as a senior at Helen Cox High School in Harvey, La. Taplin is a 6’1” guard from Williamsville, N.Y., and averaged 22.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 3.1 steals as a senior, while earning All-Western New York honors three times at Williamsville North High School. Etou will sit out the 2015-16 season after transferring from Rutgers University.
Season tickets for the 17-game home schedule are on sale NOW! Tickets start as low as $210. Tickets can be purchased by visiting the TU Athletics Ticket Office in the Donald W. Reynolds Center, or by calling 918-631-GoTU (4688).
Fans can first see Tulsa in game action on Nov. 7 when the Hurricane plays host to Haskell Indian Nations in an exhibition game. TU opens the season Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. against Central Arkansas at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.