Men's Basketball: Tulsa
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Monday, February 25, 2013
2/25/13 at 6:22 AM
14-13 overall, 6-7 C-USA
with Pat Swilling Jr.
Hometown: New Orleans
During a 13-season NFL career with the New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, Pat Swilling was a five-time Pro Bowl selection. In 1991, with the Saints, he was named the NFL defensive player of the year. His son, Pat Swilling Jr., is a junior guard for the University of Tulsa basketball team. After playing one season at St. Joseph's University and one season of junior-college basketball at the College of Southern Idaho, the younger Swilling transferred to TU. On Saturday, he scored 19 points during the Golden Hurricane's loss at Central Florida. For the season, Swilling averages 10.7 points and has converted on 50 3-point shots.
When you were a little guy, running around at your dad's NFL practice sessions, did you feel destined for a lifetime of playing football?
Everybody always thought I would play football. I'm still passionate about it. I love it and I watch it. All of my cousins are in college football right now. I always loved football, but I loved basketball, too. I knew that one day, I would have to make a decision.
As a high school linebacker in New Orleans, one of your close friends and football rivals was Tyrann Mathieu, who went on to become better known as the "Honey Badger" and an All-American cornerback at LSU. You were recruited to play both football and basketball at the college level. What was that like?
There was an article on ESPN, saying that I had decided to play football. A lot of basketball schools backed off. In football, I committed to LSU. I got a home visit from Auburn, Oregon and Vanderbilt. Kentucky was (involved). I went on a visit to Colorado. Ultimately, I decided to go to (St. Joseph's) for basketball.
Are there days now when you regret that you didn't play football, or do you remain satisfied with your decision to pursue college basketball?
I have friends and cousins who have done very well (in college football). The potential that people said I had - it makes me wonder what would have happened in football. But at the same time, I really don't believe in regrets. God puts us in situations for a reason. I'm having a great time with my teammates.
After consecutive victories over UTEP and Houston, TU entered the week with momentum. Against East Carolina on Wednesday, the Hurricane had the opportunity to achieve its first three-game win streak since November. Instead, TU was dealt a 72-63 setback at the Reynolds Center. On Saturday, against a good Central Florida squad in Orlando, TU had a much better all-around performance but didn't overcome a pronounced deficit on free throws. In an 83-75 win, the Knights were 31-of-42 at the foul line. Tulsa was 15-of-19.
The week ahead
Saturday: vs. Tulane, 3 p.m.
On Jan. 19 in New Orleans, as Tulsa freshman guard James Woodard missed on a last-second 3-point attempt, Tulane prevailed 75-72 over the Golden Hurricane.
While Tulane improved to 6-6 in Conference USA with Saturday's win at Rice, Tulsa lost at Central Florida and dropped to 6-7. In six Green Wave-Hurricane games played in Tulsa, the Hurricane prevailed five times.
The big picture
Peaks and valleys - the ultimate examples
When discussing his team's reliance on first-year freshman players, TU coach Danny Manning's most frequent comment has been this: "There will be peaks and there will be valleys." During a 101-92, triple-overtime triumph over Houston on Feb. 16, there was a peak - Tulsa got a combined total of 56 points from freshmen D'Andre Wright, Woodard, Rashad Ray and Shaquille Harrison. Against East Carolina on Wednesday, the freshmen contributed only 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting.
TU reminded of Rashad Ray's value
The Hurricane's fastest player - with or without the basketball - is freshman point guard Ray. When the 5-foot-11 native of New Orleans enters a game, Tulsa's tempo is immediately affected. No one on the Hurricane roster can match Ray's ability to dribble into the teeth of the defense and create something offensively. After four consecutive double-digit scoring performances, Ray was sidelined during the losses to East Carolina and Central Florida. There were concussion symptoms after he sustained a blow to the head in practice. Tulsa is a different team without Ray. With the Hurricane not playing again until Saturday's Tulane game, it is expected that Ray will have enough recovery time to be cleared for a return to action.
Two more dates at the Reynolds Center
TU wraps up its 15th season in the Reynolds Center with Saturday's Tulane game and the March 6 meeting with SMU. Last season's attendance average was 4,423 - TU's lowest since the 1979-80 season. University officials hoped that a coaching change would result in an attendance spike. There has been an increase, but it hardly qualifies as a spike. This season's average stands at only 4,526. In 2003-04, the average at the 8,355-seat Reynolds Center was 7,384.