Men's Basketball: Tulsa
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Monday, January 14, 2013
1/14/13 at 5:48 AM
10-7 overall, 2-1 C-USA
with Kauri Black
Weight: 218 pounds
Hometown: Rialto, Calif.
A native of the Los Angeles area, Black attended prep school in Maine before playing three seasons at Northeastern University in Boston. After graduating, he took advantage of an NCAA rule allowing graduate students to transfer and have immediate eligibility with another program. Black chose to spend his senior season with the Danny Manning-coached University of Tulsa team. Black has started in all 17 games, averaging 6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds.
You've lived in southern California, Maine, Boston and now Tulsa. Ultimately, where would you like to settle down?
I may want to go back to Boston. I have a lot of friends there. Or I might even go back to Maine. In Maine, you actually have four seasons - fall, winter, spring and summer. It's beautiful there.
How did you end up at TU?
I was transferring and I had some good offers. Ultimately, it was coach Manning and his staff. Who wouldn't want to play for coach Manning his first year? And he has a lot of connections (in professional basketball).
As a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, are you willing to concede that this season is a train wreck and they won't make the playoffs?
It's embarrassing to watch them. I keep hoping that they can turn things around, but it's not looking too good. They have to win about 75 percent of their (remaining) games just to have a chance. I want to be optimistic, but my heart is saying they won't make the playoffs this year.
TU experienced a little bit of everything last week. There was a dramatic victory at SMU (48-47 as Pat Swilling Jr. converted on a left-corner 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left), a blowout defeat at Marshall (79-61 as the Thundering Herd almost immediately raced to a huge lead) and a stressful home victory over Rice (64-51 as the Shaq Harrison-led Hurricane outscored the Owls 17-2 down the stretch).
The week ahead
Wednesday: vs. UTEP, 7 p.m.
Saturday: at Tulane, 1 p.m.
If TU is going to contend in Conference USA, it has to win home games and steal road victories. On Wednesday, the UTEP Miners visit the Reynolds Center. At 2-0 in league play, the Miners are solid and balanced. The primary scorers are Konner Tucker (13.6) and Julian Washburn (13.2).
Saturday's game at Tulane is personally significant for TU guards Swilling and Rashad Ray, both of whom are New Orleans natives.
The big picture
A roller coaster ride for James Woodard
While it may not be fair to heap so much responsibility upon the shoulders of a first-year freshman, Manning's young Tulsa team has no choice but to do exactly that with lefty guard James Woodard. Through 17 games, this would be the report card on Woodard: gifted and inconsistent. In six games, he scored at least 15 points. And in six games, he scored no more than eight points. Against Rice on Saturday, he had two points and six turnovers. More consistency is required.
Status report on injured big men
After missing two games with a right-knee injury, redshirt freshman Brandon Swannegan made a two-minute appearance during the Rice game. As the leg strengthens, his minutes should increase. TU's defense benefits from Swannegan's presence in the paint, but the Hurricane remains diminished until freshman forward D'Andre Wright returns from a lower-leg injury. TU's most complete big man, Wright has missed five games. "The rehab is coming along," Manning says. "He's progressing, yes, (but) he still hasn't practiced."
As of Wednesday, two months will have passed since sophomore Rashad Smith last played. Also plagued by a lower-leg issue, Smith may not play again this season.
In spite of ugly numbers, a winning record
The Golden Hurricane is 10-7 overall and 2-1 in Conference USA. Those records have been achieved in spite of a sub-par stat sheet. In the 12-team conference, Tulsa is ninth in scoring, eighth in field-goal percentage, 10th in free-throw percentage and 10th in turnover margin. No TU player is among the league's top 18 in scoring or among the top 17 in rebounding.
TU's Kauri Black guards Rice's Max Guercy during Saturday's game at the Reynolds Center. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World