University of Tulsa fans are welcomed to attend two of the basketball team’s preseason practices at the Reynolds Center.
“Practices are practices and it’s not a scrimmage setting, but still, if they want to pop in five minutes, 10 minutes, we wanted to give them an opportunity to do that,” coach Frank Haith said. “I want them to feel comfortable to (watch) because we’ve got so many new guys, just to get a feel for our team.”
The open practices are at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Hurricane went through its first practice Monday afternoon ahead of the 2019-20 season, which begins Nov. 5 against Houston Baptist.
TU has eight newcomers, including seven of the team’s 12 scholarship players. Among them are swingman Reggie Jones, a transfer from Western Michigan who sat out last season; Brandon Rachal, a guard who played his freshman year at LSU; and center Emmanuel Ugboh, a junior-college transfer listed at 7 feet.
“These (new) guys are all going to be an intricate part of us,” Haith said. “They’re going to play a lot. They’re going to be main guys ... and play impactful minutes for us.”
Coming off an 18-14 campaign, the Hurricane also will lean heavily on its veterans: seniors Martins Igbanu and Lawson Korita and juniors Jeriah Horne, Elijah Joiner and Darien Jackson.
“I worked this summer on being a better leader than I was last year and I’ve been learning from coach Haith,” Igbanu said. “Even last week we sat down and talked about some things I can improve on. That’s what I like about it — it’s a challenge and it keeps me on my toes.”
In terms of personnel, Arkansas transfer guard Keyshawn Embery-Simpson is awaiting word on a waiver that would make him eligible this season and big man Simon Falokun is no longer on the team because of a medical retirement.
While Haith views this group as potentially his most talented team in six seasons at TU, how the various pieces will fall into place remains to be seen.
“It’s our job to mesh it,” Haith said. “When you have so many newcomers, a big part of execution and culture is your returning guys have to help the new guys understand. We’ve got to get our chemistry right. That’s what we’ll do over the next four weeks.”