TU marks 15 seasons of the Reynolds Center, which spurred development on campus
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
3/06/13 at 7:46 AM
Related Story: Bill Haisten's Conference USA Insider
During the 1987-88 season, as the Kansas Jayhawks were coached by Larry Brown and carried by Danny Manning to the national championship, the University of Tulsa basketball team played 14 times at the Convention Center.
The Golden Hurricane's home venue was in downtown Tulsa - about 3 1/2 miles west of the TU campus - but it wasn't really a home. It was a civic facility, used not only by basketball athletes but by bull riders and rock stars.
On Feb. 18, 1988, Aerosmith performed at the Convention Center. After the show, the concert stage was removed and the basketball court was assembled. On Feb. 20, the Hurricane hosted Drake.
For decades, there was talk that TU might build an on-campus facility. On Dec. 29, 1998, the University of Tulsa celebrated its $28 million, 8,355-seat arena, known as the Donald W. Reynolds Center and located at 11th Street and Harvard Avenue.
In TU's first campus basketball game since 1934, a capacity crowd watched the Golden Hurricane rout Cleveland State 79-51. The first Hurricane points in the new gym were scored at the 17:08 mark of the first half. Michael Ruffin, then a senior, connected on two free throws.
"As an athlete in an atmosphere like that, it's easy to play," Ruffin said this week. "You can run all day. You never get tired.
"I enjoyed the old Convention Center, but the atmosphere at the Reynolds Center was perfect. It was loud. So many students. Actually getting in there and playing that game, the atmosphere was so much more dynamic than at the old place. We felt like we couldn't lose in the new arena."
On Wednesday, as the Brown-coached SMU Mustangs face Manning's Golden Hurricane in a Conference USA contest, TU concludes its 15th season in the Reynolds Center. The Hurricane will play for the 236th time in the arena.
Before interviewing for the Tulsa job last year, Manning had been in the Reynolds Center only once - as a spectator for the Kansas-Tulsa contest on Dec. 11, 2002. The Jayhawks prevailed 89-80.
"It's well-kept and it's beautiful," Manning said of the arena. "The scoreboard takes it to a different level."
During the 2011-12 season, TU installed a new sound system and a $2 million video scoreboard. The video screen measures 30 feet by 15 feet. It replaced a screen that measured 9 feet by 7 feet.
"The most interesting thing is the Jumbotron (the video board)," Hurricane senior forward Kauri Black said. "I've played in a lot of places, and I've never seen anything like it."
In 1975-78, Cal Meier was a member of TU teams that played home games both at the Expo Square Pavilion and the Convention Center.
"The (Pavilion) was older and smokier - maybe with some pigeons flying around," Meier recalled. "When we went downtown to the newer Convention Center, it seemed like the Taj Mahal. We liked the idea of playing in a new gymnasium.
"Of course, the Reynolds Center now - it exceeded everything I ever imagined about a campus facility. I had seen some early renderings, but when I walked in for the first time, I thought, 'Man, that is really cool.' TU has done a great job of keeping the Reynolds Center very nice."
During a 1997 ground-breaking ceremony, World Publishing Co. Chairman Robert E. Lorton already recognized the big-picture significance of the Reynolds Center.
"The facility's importance to TU really cannot be overstated," said Lorton, who, along with his wife, Roxana, raised money for the arena project.
Terry Hossack, a TU associate vice president, says the gleaming Reynolds Center compelled the university to spend $200 million on campus improvements. Nearly half of that amount was committed to athletics - the construction of the state-of-the-art Michael D. Case Tennis Center, the $25 million renovation of H.A. Chapman Stadium, the construction of the Case Athletic Complex and the development of new competition venues for the soccer, softball and track-and-field programs.
"There was a philosophical change at the university - to go from more of a commuter school to more of a residential university," Hossack said. "I think the Reynolds Center was an inspiration to spur development. Not only in athletic facilities, but in residential units and academic buildings."
"For so long, TU was behind in sports facilities," Hossack added. "Now, as it pertains to facilities, we are the crown jewel in Conference USA."
15 to remember
As the Golden Hurricane nears the end of its 15th season in the Reynolds Center, TU radio play-by-play voice Bruce Howard recalls 15 of the more memorable games played in the arena:
April 4, 2008
Tulsa 70, Bradley 64 (top)
A sellout crowd watches the Hurricane - led by sophomores Ben Uzoh and Jerome Jordan - prevail in the deciding game of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.
Dec. 29, 1998
Tulsa 79, Cleveland St. 51
A sellout crowd watches TU rock Cleveland State in the arena's opener. During the 1998-99 season, TU played eight times in the Reynolds Center, seven of which were sellouts.
Jan. 25, 1999
Tulsa 72, TCU 62
The only time TU has defeated a ranked team at the Reynolds Center. A sellout crowd watched the Hurricane beat Billy Tubbs.
Feb. 24, 2000
Fresno State 73, Tulsa 72
The 1999-2000 Hurricane team won 14 home games by an average of 26.1 points. There were a lot of blowouts. But the best Reynolds Center game that season was a Tulsa loss, as Courtney Alexander connected on a late shot to lift Fresno State to a dramatic WAC victory.
Dec. 10, 2000
Tulsa 89, ORU 81 (OT)
The Golden Eagles scored the first 10 points of the game. The Hurricane scored with three seconds left, pushing the game into an overtime period. Tulsa dominated during the OT.
March 10, 2001
Hawaii 78, Tulsa 72 (OT)
In the WAC Tournament championship game, Carl English converted on an off-balance shot to send the game to overtime. The Buzz Peterson-coached Hurricane did not make the NCAA Tournament, but did go on to capture the NIT championship.
March 8, 2002
Tulsa 81, Fresno State 65
In a WAC Tournament semifinal, Greg Harrington (25 points and eight rebounds) and Kevin Johnson (20 points) carry the Hurricane to the victory that ultimately resulted in an NCAA Tournament at-large berth.March 5, 2003
Tulsa 62, Fresno State 59
TU stunned Fresno State as Dante Swanson banked in a long 3-pointer at the buzzer. With the win, the Hurricane secured the No. 1 seed in the WAC Tournament.
March 14, 2003
Tulsa 66, Hawaii 56
After two WAC Tournament championship-game losses to Hawaii, the Hurricane broke through with a semifinal conquest of the Rainbow Warriors. Kevin Johnson scored 20 points for Tulsa.
March 15, 2003
Tulsa 75, Nevada 64
In the WAC Tournament championship game, Dante Swanson scored 23 points as the Hurricane secured its eighth NCAA Tournament berth in 10 years.
Jan. 1, 2005
SMU 95, Tulsa 83 (OT)
Hurricane forward Anthony Price set a Reynolds Center individual scoring record with 39 points. That record still stands.
Jan. 23, 2008
Memphis 56, Tulsa 41
The only time a No. 1-ranked team has played at the Reynolds Center. This Tiger team advanced to the national championship game, losing to Kansas in overtime.
Jan. 13, 2009
Memphis 55, Tulsa 54
After TU had taken the lead with 4.5 seconds left, Memphis' Antonio Anderson collected an inbounds pass, sprinted the length of the court and confronted 7-foot Jerome Jordan in the paint. As time expired, Anderson converted on a layup.
Dec. 2, 2009
Tulsa 86, Oklahoma St. 65
Justin Hurtt scored 21 points, Bishop Wheatley scored 17 and TU shot 56 percent from the field. The big win was part of Tulsa's 9-1 non-league start that season.
March 2, 2013
Tulsa 78, Tulane 66
After trailing by 22 points during the first half, and by 15 with 12 1/2 minutes left to play, the Hurricane responded with the greatest comeback in program history. In no previous game had Tulsa prevailed after trailing by as many as 22 points.
SMU (14-15, 4-10 C-USA)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|F ||Williams ||6-7 ||8.3 ||5.0|
|C|| Cunningham ||6-10|| 8.8 ||6.4|
|G ||Jones|| 6-7|| 14.6 ||7.8|
|G ||Manuel ||6-4|| 12.3|| 4.1|
|G ||Russell ||6-4 ||14.1|| 3.6|
Tulsa (15-13, 7-7)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|F|| Black ||6-8|| 7.6|| 4.5|
|G ||Harrison|| 6-3 ||6.6 ||3.8|
|G|| Haralson ||6-4|| 10.1|| 3.7|
|G ||Woodard|| 6-4 ||11.8|| 5.7|
|G ||Peete ||6-4 ||3.3|| 2.9|
SMU at Tulsa
7 p.m. Wednesday
Original Print Headline: 15 seasons at the Reynolds Center
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
TU guard Brett McDade is hoisted onto the shoulders of students as they storm the court immediately following TU's win over Bradley to clinch the College Basketball Invitational title in 2008. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World file
The Donald W. Reynolds Center is seen in this aerial shot a few weeks before the first game. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World file
Michael Ruffin scores the first point at the Reynolds Center on Dec 29, 1998. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World file
Tulsa assistant coach Steve Cooper, Marqus Ledoux and teammates mob Dante Swanson after he hit the game-winning 3-pointer to beat Fresno State on March 5, 2003. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World file
TU's Greg Harrington scores against Fresno State during their WAC Tournament game at the Reynolds Center on March 8, 2002. Tulsa World file