TU's Doug Wojcik sees himself in his players


Wednesday, October 11th 2006, 10:21 pm
By: News On 6


TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Entering his second season at Tulsa, coach Doug Wojcik feels like he has put his stamp on the Golden Hurricane program. And there's perhaps no better evidence than his players.

Wojcik and his assistants recruited players with certain beliefs and character that would fit in at Tulsa. Already, they've been able to transform the team by filling 13 of the 15 roster spots with their own recruits.

``I think it's a team full of guys that have my personality,'' Wojcik said Wednesday at the team's annual media day. ``Even though they may not be as vocal or this and that, they do know what I'm looking for. As long as they know and they understand and they want to win, it'll be a pretty decent transition.''

In Wojcik's first season, the Golden Hurricane went 11-17 and finished sixth in their Conference USA debut. Even with the adjustment to Wojcik's new style and a new conference, it was an improvement after back-to-back 9-20 seasons.

``Going into last year, I think we all kind of felt like freshmen,'' said junior guard Brett McDade, who averaged 10.1 points and is Tulsa's top scorer among its returning players. ``We didn't know what to expect in Conference USA. We didn't know what to expect from Coach. We didn't know the system.

``Coming in now, we know everything, and we know what's expected of us.''

McDade and Charles Ramsdell, a senior forward, are the only two players left from Tulsa's years under John Phillips and Alvin ``Pooh'' Williamson. Wojcik brought in eight newcomers last year, and five more players will join the team this season.

``These guys, for the most part, over the next two years are the team,'' Wojcik said. ``It is my stamp. It's not just the individuals, it's the way I run things on a daily basis, it's hopefully the way we're getting around town and spreading the word about TU basketball, it's the way I run my basketball camp in the summer. That's, to me, my stamp on the TU basketball program.''

The newcomers include Calvin Walls, a 6-foot-7 forward who formerly played at Wichita State, and 6-foot-11 center Jerome Jordan, the tallest Tulsa player since Rafael Maldonado's career ended in 1997.

``We have five guys with over 7-foot wingspans now,'' Wojcik said. ``We're a lot longer, we're more athletic and I like the mix.''

While the infusion of newcomers mean Wojcik will have his own recruits on the floor, it also means that Tulsa will be extremely young. Ten of the 15 players are either freshmen or sophomores, and only six have played in a game for Tulsa.

``I don't look for us to be so youthful that we can't win,'' Wojcik said. ``I think generally for the whole team, we have to learn and expect and know how to win. That's the next step for our program.''

Wojcik said there wasn't a specific win total that would make this season a success for the Golden Hurricane because he never enters a game expecting to lose. He said Tulsa's barometer will be its finish in Conference USA.

In Wojcik's first season, league coaches picked Tulsa to finish ninth among the conference's 12 teams. Instead, the Golden Hurricane ended up in a three-way tie for sixth and only one game out of fifth place.

``I believe if we can keep climbing in conference, that's a positive for us,'' Wojcik said.