Men's Basketball: Tulsa
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Monday, February 04, 2013
2/04/13 at 9:04 AM
12-10 overall, 4-4 C-USA
with Shaq Harrison
Weight: 175 pounds
Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.
On May 7, Harrison became the first recruit to sign with the Danny Manning-coached University of Tulsa basketball program. At Lee's Summit West High School in the Kansas City, Mo., area, Harrison starred not only in basketball but in football (wide receiver) and track (200-, 400- and 800-meter races). As a senior in basketball, he averaged 17.3 points, seven rebounds, four assists and 3.2 steals per game. The Kansas City Star named Harrison as the metro player of the year.
You have started in every game and you're averaging 25 minutes. Have you exceeded what you expected to achieve as a first-year freshman?
I didn't expect this, but it was a goal of mine. I wanted to find a (college) home where I could play right away and make an impact, and my goal came true.
In regard to toughness - physical and mental - how much different is the Tulsa team now compared to the Tulsa team of November and early December?
We've learned how to fight back. In the Stephen F. Austin game (a 57-41 home loss Nov. 24), they hit us in the mouth and we just laid down and let them hit us. Against Southern Miss, when they hit us, we started swinging back.
In high school, what track event did you perform at the highest level? And did you consider college football instead of basketball?
In track, I ran the 400, 200 and 800. The 800 is like a distance race with speed. I achieved the highest in the 800 - my personal-best time was a 1:59. I'm a pretty good runner. I was recruited in both football and basketball, and I was stuck between the two. I finally decided that I loved basketball.
There were two positives last week. Because there was no midweek game, Hurricane players savored two days off. And on Wednesday night, a nice crowd gathered to watch an open practice at the Reynolds Center. When the weekend arrived, there was misery. Freshman forward Zeldric King sustained a leg injury on Friday. On Saturday, he was on crutches as the Golden Hurricane was routed 94-64 at Memphis. The 30-point defeat was Tulsa's worst in seven years.
The week ahead
Wednesday: vs. UAB, 7 p.m.
Saturday: at UTEP, 8 p.m.
Against Southern Miss on Saturday, UAB rallied from a 12-point deficit to within two points with a minute left, but the Blazers wound up with a 79-75 defeat. In advance of its Wednesday assignment at Tulsa, UAB is 9-13 overall and 1-6 in Conference USA. Against UAB, Southern Miss shot 64 percent from the field. Against TU a week earlier, Southern Miss shot 39 percent.
At 8 p.m. Saturday - in the third of three consecutive home dates - the UTEP Miners host TU at the Don Haskins Center. The game is a rematch of the Hurricane's Jan. 16 triumph over UTEP (47-42 at the Reynolds Center).
The big picture
Another injury for hard-luck Hurricane
Because of injuries, Tulsa's Rashad Smith, D'Andre Wright, Brandon Swannegan and Pat Swilling Jr. have missed a combined total of 43 games this season. During Friday's practice - after it became apparent that Wright would be OK to play for the first time since Dec. 22 - freshman forward Zeldric King sustained a leg injury. Wright played 11 minutes at Memphis. King was on crutches. It is not known how soon Wright might be strong enough to play 25 minutes a game. It seems obvious that Smith won't play again this season. King's status for the UAB game is uncertain. Injuries have rocked this TU team.
TU's position in the race for third place
The competition for the Conference USA regular-season title appears to be a two-horse race. With a 12-game win streak, Memphis is 18-3 overall and 7-0 in league play. With a 23-game home win streak, Southern Miss is 18-4 and 7-0. Two teams - Central Florida and UTEP - are at 5-2 in the league standings. Next at 4-4 are TU and East Carolina. Among Tulsa's eight remaining regular-season opponents are Central Florida and UTEP, which gives the Hurricane a chance to gain ground in the standings and make a run at the No. 3 seed in the C-USA Tournament, set for March 13-16 at BOK Center.
An examination of the remaining schedule
After visiting UTEP on Saturday, four of TU's final six regular-season games will be played at the Reynolds Center. The Hurricane hosts Houston on Feb. 16, East Carolina on Feb. 20, Tulane on March 2 and SMU on March 6. None of those four teams has a conference record better than 4-4. Tulsa plays at Central Florida on Feb. 23 and at Rice on Feb. 9. Over the previous 32 seasons, there were only four during which TU finished with a losing record in conference play. If Tulsa can sweep its remaining home games, Manning's first team finishes at no worse than .500 in the conference.