Men's Basketball: Tulsa
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Monday, February 18, 2013
2/18/13 at 5:42 AM
14-11 overall, 6-5 C-USA
with Jamie Booker
Weight: 195 pounds
As a senior at Booker T. Washington High School, Booker's first-year head coach was Shea Seals. Booker now is a senior walk-on at TU, and Seals is a first-year Golden Hurricane assistant. After working as a Hurricane team manager for two seasons, Booker became a walk-on player before the start of the 2011-12 season. He scored one basket last season, during the final few seconds of a loss to Memphis. Booker got his first meaningful playing time - three first-half minutes - during last week's victory at UTEP.
When Danny Manning called your name at UTEP, did your pulse rate immediately triple?
You know, that game, I felt like I was ready the whole time. I just tried to go out there and play as hard as I could until he decided to take me out. (After the game), I had some tweets and a couple of text messages about it - people noticing that I had gotten a couple of minutes and a rebound. It was nice to be out there and have some sort of impact on the game. Coach Manning has reminded both me and Nick (freshman walk-on Nick Wood, who converted on a 3-pointer at UTEP) to stay ready. You never know when your number could be called.
Now that you've been invested in a big road win, are you hoping more strongly than ever for additional playing time?
Everybody wants to play more. All I can do is continue to stay ready. That's the best thing I can do. If my name gets called, then I'll give it my best.
Why did you wait two years before becoming a walk-on player for TU?
In the beginning, I was supposed to be a walk-on here as a freshman. But because of the major that I was pursuing at that time, petroleum engineering, playing basketball and my academics would have been tough. I decided to be a manager for the team, because I still wanted to be around the game.
After ending a three-game losing streak with a 74-70 victory at UTEP on Feb. 9, the Golden Hurricane did not play again until Saturday. Perhaps the extra time off was a factor in TU's three-hour triumph over Houston, 101-92, in the first triple-overtime home game in Hurricane program history. It was the third triple-overtime contest in school history. For the first time in more than 11 years, TU scored 100 points in a home game against an NCAA Division I opponent.
The week ahead
Wednesday: vs. East Carolina, 7 p.m.
Saturday: at Central Florida, 3 p.m.
Tulsa is 14-11 overall and 6-5 in the Conference USA standings. East Carolina is 5-6. The Pirates led Southern Miss 66-55 with 5:41 left in Saturday's game, but the Golden Eagles won 86-82 in overtime. East Carolina's Akeem Richmond hit a program-record eight 3-point shots.
Before last week, Central Florida had a 7-2 conference record and was clearly the No. 3 team in C-USA. It appeared that Tulsa's trip to UCF would be an extremely difficult assignment. Now it appears to be a game that Tulsa can win. UCF fell 93-71 at Memphis and 73-58 at UTEP.
The big picture
TU recovers from Houston's 3-point shock
With two seconds left in Saturday's Houston-TU game at the Reynolds Center, the Hurricane had a 70-67 lead and possession of the basketball. After a turnover, Houston's Jherrod Stiggers converted on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, sending the game to the first of three overtimes.
When asked what message he conveyed to his players before the first OT period, Tulsa coach Danny Manning said, "We all know mistakes are going to happen. We don't want the second mistake of dropping your shoulders, dropping your head and starting to pout. That's two mistakes in a row. We don't want two mistakes in a row. They made a shot. They made a great shot. ... Let's move on."
Again, Wright with a big performance
While it still may be a little early to proclaim that Hurricane forward D'Andre Wright is destined for stardom, the 6-foot-9 freshman from Lawton has been awfully good in his last two games. At UTEP on Feb. 9, in his first extended playing time since he sustained a mid-December leg injury, Wright was 9-of-12 from the field and scored 25 points. Against Houston, while playing on a left leg that still isn't close to 100 percent, he had 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
Timely reemergence by James Woodard
During Tulsa's first 22 games, freshman guard James Woodard was the team's scoring leader at 13.2 points per game. But when bothered by pain and stiffness in his back, his productivity plummeted. He was scoreless at Memphis, totaled only three points against UAB and didn't play at all at UTEP. Against Houston, most of his flexibility seemed restored and he had one of his better performances of the season - 16 points and 12 rebounds. "His presence is huge for us," Manning says.