TU basketball: midseason review
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
1/09/13 at 5:31 AM
9-6 overall, 1-0 C-USA
Head coach Danny Manning rarely reveals even a hint of frustration, but TU's injury situation has to be maddening. Pat Swilling Jr. (wrist) missed the first seven games. Forwards Rashad Smith, D'Andre Wright and Brandon Swannegan - all dogged by leg injuries - have been sidelined for a combined 22 games. Manning doesn't know if or when any of the forwards might be cleared to play again.
On Dec. 22, with 16 minutes remaining in the Mayor's Cup game at Oral Roberts, Tulsa trailed by 17 points. Guards Scottie Haralson and James Woodard sparked TU to a 72-68 victory. However, last Sunday's 48-47 win at SMU - with Swilling connecting on a 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left - was more important in that it was a Conference USA contest.
Stephen F. Austin has a really good team. The Lumberjacks are brilliant defensively and recorded a 56-55 triumph at Oklahoma last month. But when Stephen F. Austin visited TU's Reynolds Center on Nov. 24, the competition was one-sided. The Golden Hurricane was overwhelmed, totaling five more turnovers (18) than field goals (13) in a 57-41 defeat.
During a 12-season NFL career, defensive end Pat Swilling was a five-time Pro Bowl selection. His son, Pat Swilling Jr., brings a football toughness to the Tulsa basketball program. Playing with a left wrist that was surgically repaired only a few weeks ago, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Swilling Jr. averages 10.9 points and shoots 42 percent from 3-point range. Against TCU, he sank the game-winning free throw. At SMU, he was responsible for the game-winning 3-pointer.
As Manning predicted, Tulsa's freshmen have been inconsistent. On the whole, however, Hurricane rookies have been solid. Before his injury, forward D'Andre Wright was an 8.2-point scorer and averaged 5.1 rebounds. Lefty guard James Woodard is occasionally explosive on offense and consistently productive on the boards. Shaq Harrison is a tireless defender, Rashad Ray is a playmaker and forward Zeldric King had a great second half during the Mayor's Cup victory.
Toughest remaining game
While the 2012-13 Memphis Tigers aren't in the same class as the John Calipari-coached Tigers of a few years ago, Memphis remains the class of the conference. Tulsa and the Tigers clash only once during the regular season - on Feb. 2 at Memphis.
TU will make the NCAA Tournament if...
Because seven of Conference USA's 12 teams are at No. 138 or worse in the RPI, Tulsa (No. 107) probably has no shot at achieving the type of RPI climb that could result in an NCAA at-large berth. The 99 percent likelihood is that TU makes the NCAA field only if it wins the conference tournament - set for March 13-16 at the BOK Center.
Pat Swilling Jr. tries to get past Buffalo's Javon McCrea last week. Swilling hit the game-winning shot at SMU on Sunday. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World