Tulsa Temple Feb 09

Tulsa guard Lawson Korita (left) says that he likes the Hurricane’s chemistry heading into Tuesday’s season opener.

IAN MAULE/Tulsa World file

An influx of talent has re-energized the University of Tulsa basketball program ahead of the season opener Tuesday.

“We have some new guys we are counting on to be an integral part of our success, so we will need those guys to come along,” sixth-year coach Frank Haith said. “I think we have good talent, though. I like the ability of our newcomers we brought in to this team.”

Particularly the additions of swingmen Reggie Jones, who sat out last season, and Brandon Rachal, a junior-college transfer, could help to propel the Hurricane to more success after failing to reach 20 wins or postseason play the previous three years.

“We’ve got enough guys that are hungry, that have a competitive spirit and want to play in postseason,” Haith said. “That’s a goal every year and I think this team is more than capable of getting on a run and having a shot at playing in the postseason.

“A lot will depend on how we can get the chemistry and get this thing together because talent-wise, I feel good about where we’re at and being able to play in postseason.”

TU opens against Houston Baptist at noon Tuesday for the annual Blackboards and Backboards game in which more than 3,000 area elementary-school kids are scheduled to attend at the Reynolds Center.

In the nonconference portion of the schedule, the Hurricane will face Vanderbilt, Boise State, Arkansas, Colorado State and Kansas State before starting play in the American Athletic Conference, where it was picked to finish 10th.

The ceiling for a team that features seniors Martins Igbanu and Lawson Korita in the starting lineup might depend on how quickly the new and returning pieces can come together. In last week’s exhibition against Rockhurst, TU started slow before catching fire in the second half of a 20-point victory.

“I feel like we have great chemistry with this team,” Korita said. “It makes it so much easier (on the court). You know where someone’s going to be and when you talk to them how they’re going to respond.”

Kelly Hines

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Kelly has been the University of Tulsa football and basketball beat writer since 2014. She grew up in Moore, was valedictorian at Christian Heritage Academy and graduated from Oklahoma State University. Phone: 918-581-8452