Remember when Tulsa was one of the early mid-major darlings back in the 1980’s, which extended to the early-2000’s? That was way back when the Golden Hurricane were a staple in the NCAA Tournament, appearing in the Big Dance 13 times between 1982-2003. Well, they might be on the verge of restoring some of that legacy with the start they are off to this season.
Tulsa has been well renowned for their ability to churn out great coaches. The Golden Hurricanes have had some legendary coaches roam the sidelines in the last 30 years or so.
Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith and Bill Self have all called Tulsa home before moving on to greener pastures. Last year Tulsa advanced to the NCAA Tournament on the heels of Danny Manning doing a good job of coaching the Golden Hurricane to a 21-13 record. He, too, moved up the coaching ladder, accepting the Wake Forest head coaching job in the offseason.
The Golden Hurricane are now coached by Frank Haith, a veteran of the college coaching ranks after previous stops at Miami and Missouri. He is continuing the legacy of strong coaching at Tulsa. This is his first year with the school, which also coincides with Tulsa’s first year in the AAC, which is a step up from where they were in Conference USA.
Yes, Tulsa is currently ahead of Connecticut, Memphis, Cincinnati, SMU and Temple in the AAC standings and is looking to make it back to the NCAA Tournament this year. If you recall, Tulsa—as a 13-seed after winning the Conference USA championship— lost to UCLA in the first round last year. With an RPI of 51 (according to kenpom.com) this season, Tulsa is on the precipice of getting NCAA consideration regardless of if they are still sitting at the top at the AAC standings at the end of the year.
One thing for certain is Manning did not leave the cupboard bare for Haith. The Golden Hurricane returned four out of their top-five scorers from last year’s team.
The team is led by the high-scoring duo of Shaquille Harrison and James Woodard. Combined they score more than 30 points per game with Harrison averaging 15.4 points per game and Woodard just slightly behind with 15.2 points per game.
Although Tulsa does not have any seniors on the squad, this is still a veteran-laden team with experienced juniors (including Harrison and Woodard) leading the way. They also get production from 6’7” junior guard/forward Rashad Smith, who leads the team in rebounding with 6.6 per game while also chipping in 8.2 points per game. Marquel Curtis (8.1 ppg) and D’Andre Wright (7.3 ppg) are another couple of juniors Haith relies on.
As you can probably deduce, the Golden Hurricane do indeed start five juniors. So, this is a team that you should take notice of not only for this year but next year as well. With Haith and his ability to recruit well, this is a team that is clearly on the upswing.
Tulsa’s indoctrination to the AAC has gone swimmingly, and it is looking like a team you should start paying attention to.