John Klein: Changes to Danny Manning brings hope back to TU basketball
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Monday, November 12, 2012
11/12/12 at 4:53 AM
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: Change brings hope back for TU
Hope and change. Tulsa embraced Danny Manning's promise for TU basketball on Sunday night at the Reynolds Center.
The Golden Hurricane raced out to 60 points in the first half, reached 101 with over four minutes to go, and went on to a 110-54 victory over LSU-Shreveport.
"It's a faster pace of play," said Manning. "We're going to get up and down the floor."
The Golden Hurricane is hopeful that change is coming but there is ample evidence that nothing will come easy or quick for Tulsa.
After seven years of mediocrity, and nine years since its last NCAA Tournament game, Tulsa began the long road to recovery when Manning coached his first game with Tulsa.
"Our team came out with a lot of energy," said Manning. "There was a lot of energy in the building."
Tulsa may be long on heart and desire but the Golden Hurricane would appear to be short in talent and muscle.
As a result, there are low expectations for Manning's first team in Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane is not likely to be a factor when the Conference USA Tournament comes to the BOK Center in March.
Yet, after seven years of a combative relationship between coach and fans, TU fans felt a breath of fresh air blow into the Reynolds Center.
"It was great to see that crowd, especially the student section (which was packed)," said Manning.
It was a big night for the new-look Hurricane. James Woodard, one of the freshmen expected to have an immediate impact, looked fabulous in his debut with 28 points.
"He's a very talented basketball player," said Manning.
Scottie Haralson, the only returning player of significance, seemed to slide right into his new role comfortably with 14 points.
TU appears to have some offensive skills. Tulsa had 12 players score in the game, four in double figures.
"We still want to force the tempo a little more," said Manning.
Tulsa outrebounded LSU-Shreveport 53-31. Yes, it was a mismatch.
Still, it was the perfect start for the new era of the promised up-tempo Hurricane.
Of course, no one should run out and start making plans for March just yet. LSU-Shreveport plays in the same league with Langston and Bacone. Tulsa plays in the same league with Memphis.
"We have so many new guys," said Manning. "We'll continue to figure it out and make do."
It was a nice start to what TU fans will hope will be the first step back to college basketball's elite.
Manning has not backed away or tried to lower expectations. He understands.
Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith and Bill Self lifted the level of basketball at Tulsa onto the national stage. Let us be perfectly clear. Manning will be judged on how quick, or if, he puts TU back in the Big Dance.
Yet, Tulsa fans helped usher in the Manning era knowing the new coach understands the expectations.
If there are growing pains, and there will be, then Tulsa fans seem willing to be patient. Well, not seven years patient. Maybe three or four.
Whatever the eventual result of this latest coach change at Tulsa, there does seem to be a new enthusiasm and excitement in the Reynolds Center.
That's the first step in the revival of Tulsa basketball. There has to be a belief among the faithful that brighter days are ahead.
That is happening.
There is an understanding that the loss of TU's best players, through defection and medical concerns, will make this season a struggle.
But making baskets like Tulsa did against LSU-Shreveport, hitting 13 3-pointers and shooting 52 percent, will make the journey easier.
TU men's basketball head coach Danny Manning thanks the LSU Shreveport Pilots after his team defeated them during his first basketball game with TU at the Reynolds Center in Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World