Men's Basketball: Tulsa
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 5:54 AM
with James Woodard
Weight: 175 pounds
Having led Edmond Memorial to last season's Class 6A championship game, Woodard is one of eight first-year players in the University of Tulsa program. During the nonconference portion of the schedule, he was voted the Conference USA freshman of the week on three occasions. Woodard scored 28 points in his first college game (a blowout of LSU-Shreveport), scored 27 against Jackson State, starred in TU's comeback victory at Oral Roberts and had a 22-point, eight-rebound performance during last week's triumph over Buffalo. Entering Sunday's C-USA opener at SMU, Woodard was averaging 14.2 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Through the first 14 games of your TU career, what have you found to be the greatest differences between high school and college basketball?
The intensity level, really. It's pretty amazing how much energy and intensity that each game has. You can't take any game for granted. The strength of the players, it's pretty tough at the Division I level. To be honest, I had no clue of what I would be doing as a freshman. I just wanted to contribute to the team."
Have you adjusted to the academic demands of attending TU?
It's kind of tough, but if you stay on track, you're OK. It's been good. It could be an assignment or something to study, but there's something nearly every day. High school was so much easier.
Through your first 14 games, you scored 68 baskets. Does any one qualify as having been your favorite?
I think I like the dunk at ORU (the second-half, baseline drive-and-finish that sparked Tulsa's comeback from a 17-point deficit). I had been waiting to do something like that.
Since prevailing at Oral Roberts at Dec. 22, the Golden Hurricane has played twice - losing 82-63 to Florida State in Sunrise, Fla., and defeating the University of Buffalo 63-57 at the Reynolds Center. The Hurricane rallied to beat Buffalo in spite of 4-of-18 shooting from 3-point range and 15-of-28 shooting free throws. Tulsa opened Conference USA play with a 48-47 win at SMU on Sunday night.
The week ahead
Wednesday: at Marshall, 6 p.m.
Saturday: Rice, 5:30 p.m.
The Hurricane faces Marshall for the first time since last season's Conference USA tournament in Memphis. The Thundering Herd prevailed 105-100 in triple overtime, ending TU's season. A week later, after having become the program's all-time leader in coaching victories, Tulsa's Doug Wojcik was dismissed after seven seasons. Marshall was 7-7 during nonconference play. The Thundering Herd is plagued by terrible shooting - .419 from the field overall and .587 on free throws.
The big picture
Injuries threaten to ruin season
A 6-7 sophomore forward, Rashad Smith averaged 14.5 points through the first four games, but hasn't played since because of a stress-type injury in his left leg. D'Andre Wright is an excellent freshman, but he also is sidelined (leg). Forward Brandon Swannegan sustained a knee injury last week. Pat Swilling Jr. is playing with a sore left wrist that required preseason surgery. First-year coach Danny Manning enters Conference USA play with limited firepower and diminished depth.
What happened to TU at the foul line?
Through the first three games of the season, the Hurricane connected on 81 percent of its throws (63-of-78). Entering Conference USA play, however, TU ranked 10th in the league in free throw percentage at .655. Why the drop in efficiency? In seven games, Tulsa missed at least nine free throws. A 63-57 victory over Buffalo was more dramatic than it had to be because TU missed 13 free throws.
For TU to contend, efficiency must improve
Entering conference play, the Hurricane did not have a player among the league's top 15 in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, rebounding or assists. Freshman James Woodard is 12th in scoring at 14.2 per game and 16th in rebounds at 6.2. TU's low-post offense has been damaged by injuries sustained by forwards, and the result is a heavy reliance on perimeter shots. TU is 10th in the conference in 3-point percentage at .328. Ball security also is a problem. Tulsa averages 16.6 turnovers. Opponents average 14.0.
Tulsa's James Woodard heads downcourt during the Hurricane's win over ORU last month. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World