TU basketball notebook: Better atmosphere
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Sunday, December 09, 2012
12/09/12 at 6:37 AM
TU men outlast TCU for home win
For the season-opening victory over LSU-Shreveport, a Reynolds Center crowd of 5,689 saw Danny Manning's debut as the University of Tulsa basketball.
For subsequent home wins, the attendance dipped - 4,134 for the Jackson State game, 3,984 for the Stephen F. Austin game and 4,105 for the Missouri State game.
For Saturday's TCU-TU contest, there was an involved and occasionally loud crowd of 4,856.
"The student section was great today," Golden Hurricane freshman forward D'Andre Wright said. "We just hope our fans keep coming out. They're going to see a fun team."
The crowd was particularly loud during halftime, when members of the Conference USA-champion TU football team were on the court. Bill Blankenship, the C-USA coach of the year, took the microphone and encouraged fans to attend TU's Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl clash with Iowa State in Memphis, Tenn.
Time for travel: TU played at home on Wednesday (against Missouri State) and again on Saturday (against TCU), but doesn't play again at the Reynolds Center until Buffalo visits on Jan. 2.
After losing to Stephen F. Austin and Wichita State, the Hurricane bounced back with wins over Missouri State and TCU.
"It's a priority for us to hold down our homecourt," Tulsa junior guard Pat Swilling Jr. said. "We already had one loss here against Stephen F. Austin. One loss at home is too many."
TU's next four dates are away from home - at Arkansas-Little Rock on Dec. 15, at Creighton on Dec. 19, at Oral Roberts on Dec. 22 and against Florida State in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl Classic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Swilling's influence: Through Tulsa's first seven games, freshman guard James Woodard was the team's scoring leader at 16.9 points per game. Against Missouri State, he managed only four points on 1-of-5 shooting. Against TCU on Saturday, he was 0-of-4 from the field. He scored two points on two free throws.
Now that Woodard is attracting increasing attention from opposing defenses, can he learn from watching the creativity of Swilling? The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Swilling is an effective perimeter shooter but also can beat defenders on dribble moves.
"Pat is a seasoned veteran. He brings that presence to our team," Manning said. "The ability to put the ball on the floor and go make plays. Vision offensively. Vision defensively. Mentally, he's been through some hardships. He's got a hard shell about him. We don't win these last two games without Pat Swilling Jr."
Swilling's role: In his first two games since returning from a wrist injury, Swilling has been TU's sixth man - getting 19 minutes against Missouri State and 29 against TCU. After he becomes completely healthy, will Swilling remain the sixth man or be wedged into the starting lineup?
"We'll see," Manning said. "It doesn't matter who starts. We'll have five guys out there who give us the best chance to win at that particular time."