Tulane trip a homecoming for Tulsa trio
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2013
1/19/13 at 7:12 AM
Devlin Fieldhouse, the home venue of the Tulane Green Wave basketball team, is located eight miles south of Brother Martin High School - the alma mater of University of Tulsa junior guard Pat Swilling Jr.
Devlin Fieldhouse is six miles west of O. Perry Walker High School - the alma mater of Golden Hurricane freshman guard Rashad Ray. The Tulane University campus is a three-hour drive from Tulsa senior guard Scottie Haralson's home in Jackson, Miss.
For the entire Hurricane squad, Saturday's 1 p.m. Conference USA clash with the Green Wave is important. Now at 11-7 overall and 3-1 in C-USA, Tulsa has defined itself as one of the league's better defensive teams. The Hurricane takes to New Orleans the momentum of having beaten UTEP 45-42 on Wednesday.
But for Swilling, Ray and Haralson, a trip to Tulane is personally significant. Swilling and Ray are New Orleans natives.
"I'm pretty excited about it. It's a special game," said Haralson, who expects "quite a few" of his family members and friends to make the drive from Jackson.
"People from my high school have been asking about the game," Ray said. "Everybody is excited to see me play on the college level. I want to show them how good I can be."
Ray says playing before 50 relatives and friends is more stressful than performing for an audience of 10,000 strangers. Tulsa coach Danny Manning says Ray, Haralson and Swilling can visit with family members for two hours on Friday night, but otherwise, "this is not a vacation. It's a business trip."
"We're coming down here to win a game," Manning said. "When it comes time to prepare for the game, (the players) have to be there."
Tulane enters with records of 12-5 overall and 0-2 in Conference USA. Since closing nonconference play with five consecutive victories (including 53-50 at Alabama), the Green Wave opened league play with a home loss to UTEP and a setback at SMU.
Tulane has Conference USA's best rebounding margin at plus-6.5 per game and one of the league's better players in forward Josh Davis, who ranks No. 3 in C-USA in scoring (17.4 average) and No. 1 in rebounding (10.2).
With the Hurricane having struggled against UTEP's full-court trap on Wednesday, Tulane and other C-USA opponents might attack more frequently with defensive pressure. During the final minute of the UTEP game at the Reynolds Center, Tulsa committed four turnovers against the Miners' press.
"We didn't respond well at all," Manning said. "That's something we have to get better at, but that's something we practice every day."
Swilling plays in New Orleans for the first time since 2010, when he scored 27 points to lift his Brother Martin team to an upset playoff victory over St. Augustine. Swilling's squad went on to capture the state title in Lafayette.
"A lot of my family and friends have never seen me play college basketball," Swilling said. "Maybe on TV, but never in person. I'm looking forward to playing in front of some of my old classmates."
1 p.m. Saturday
Radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Original Print Headline: Road trip a return for Tulsa trio
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
TU's Pat Swilling looks for a way around UTEP's Konner Tucker on Wednesday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World