Hello fans of the Flyer. Blackburn mailed in the recon this week so that he could wallow in his sadness from 2003. But fear not! Your ol’ pal Sully caught up with a Tulsa basketball-knower to get hit with some knowledge.
(Blackburn knew I was doing this, so writing a full recap was unnecessary, I’m giving him his out)
Everything in my words below is in bold print, Chris’ answers are in Italics, you get the drift….Enjoy.
First things first brother – introduce yourself to the fine readers of the BBR. When and how did you chose this life of mid-major basketball blogging? Did it choose you?
I’m Chris Harmon, Publisher and Managing Editor of Inside Tulsa Sports on Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports. I’ve been covering University of Tulsa football, basketball and recruiting since 2001, when I started as a beat reporter for Tulsa Sports Web, the Moore American and the McAlester News. I transitioned from print journalism to online media in 2004 with Rivals and have been doing it ever since.
A long, arduous road indeed my friend. Your services to the BBR are most appreciated.
So I’m gonna go right ahead and tackle the naked guy in the room: where were you in 2003 when Tulsa beat Dayton? Was that upset as obvious to Tulsa fans as it was to UD fans at the time of the bracket pairing? (I still think about this game often and I was 12)
It’s interesting, because most Tulsa fans focus on the game right after that one against Wisconsin in the second round. Tulsa was ahead by 13 with under four minutes to play, and Wisconsin hit a 3-pointer with one second left to win 61-60. Up to that point, Tulsa had made the postseason 18 times in the past 23 seasons, with three Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight and two NIT titles during that span. So Tulsa fans were used to seeing the Hurricane pull off upsets. I’d say most Tulsa fans were fully expecting TU to beat Dayton that year.
That special 23 year run ended for Tulsa after that tournament, and they didn’t make it back to the NCAA tournament until 2014.
It’s more than fair to say that many pragmatic Dayton fans felt the same way about that game. (Note from Sully: the length of Tulsa’s tournament drought was identical to that of UD’s from 1989-2000, for some perspective)
So, you’re addressing a fan base that knows virtually nothing about Tulsa and their basketball program, so what’s the skinny? What’s the expectation at Tulsa these days? It seems like you guys routinely hover around the 20-win Mendoza line.
When Dayton faced Tulsa back in 2003, the Hurricane was in the Western Athletic Conference. It since joined Conference USA and now the American Athletic Conference for the past five years. Frank Haith has done a solid job as head coach, and this is probably his best team so far. Tulsa was picked to finish ninth by the league coaches, but they have finished higher than their preseason pick every year.
Most are expecting a return to the NCAA Tournament this season. Haith guided Tulsa to the First Four in 2016. (in the Gem City baby!)
Onto this year’s team, it seems like you’re on pace currently to meet the tournament expectations as of this writing. After wins to Ok State (is that a rivalry?) and KSU the ship is still sailing in the right direction.
Last week was a big week for Tulsa, beating Oklahoma State and #15 Kansas State. OSU is definitely an in-state rival, but they don’t play as often as they used to. Expectations have soared among Tulsa fans, who are hesitantly hoping this team continues its upward trend.
What does this team do well?
Tulsa has been up and down in several categories, which ended up being costly in losses to Utah and Southern Illinois. They struggled with overall consistency until last week. So it’s hard to pinpoint things they have done consistently well, but their match-up zone has continued to get better and was a major factor in last week’s wins. Offensively, Tulsa has a number of players that are capable of getting a hot hand.
What are they particularly terrible at doing?
Well, in the last game, a 70-60 win over New Orleans on Thursday, it was free-throw shooting (that sounds familiar!), as they finished 13 of 33. However, they were shooting over 70 percent from the line coming into the game. As I mentioned before, they haven’t been consistent in most areas. They’ll shoot the three great in one game and poorly in the next two. One major problem early was starting games slowly. It seemed to take 10 minutes or so for the team to wake up; however, that has been fixed over the past three or four games.
What is the key to Tulsa taking down Dayton on Sunday? Alternatively for our readers – how can the Flyers get the win?
The key for Tulsa is to continue its upward trend from the past three games, which means starting with good energy and maintaining that energy throughout, along with continuing to stifle opponents the match-up zone. Tulsa seems to get good contributions from different players each game, but when forward DaQuan Jeffries is on his game, it makes the Hurricane very tough on both ends of the court.
For Dayton, if they figure out how to attack the Tulsa defense early and force TU to make adjustments, the Flyers will have a definite advantage. Making some threes to open up the middle would also be very helpful.
I know just the guy!
I like to gain perspective into these sorts of things: but why was Tulsa motivated to schedule this game? It seems like you don’t have much trouble scheduling P5 opponents…at least at first glance.
Tulsa does have difficulty scheduling major conference foes, and so they look to find quality opponents in the A-10, Mountain West, Missouri Valley, etc. to fill out the non-conference. TU got lucky getting two Big 12 teams last week…that is a very rare occurrence.
Has the Tulsa campus ever been obliterated by a tornado? Is that a thing?
The city of Tulsa has had its fair share of tornadoes, but I can’t specifically think of one doing major damage to the campus. Tulsa County had two tornadoes last year and four tornadoes the year before. It’s a yearly occurrence out there.
That’s some wild shit, man, tornadoes are scary as hell honestly. Ok, you’re almost done. Score prediction!
Tulsa is 8-0 at home this year but 0-3 on the road, so I was going to give Dayton the edge, but then I saw the Flyers were 1-3 away from UD Arena. I’m going to say Tulsa picks up its first win away from home in a close one, 70-67. But I also won’t be shocked to see it go the other way.
Thank you again to Chris for finding time in his schedule to answer my silly questions about basketball. If you’re still craving more moronic minutiae, I recorded a podcast with another Tulsa diehard over on Soundcloud.
Since I’ve let everyone else do the predicting around here, I’m going to firmly plant my flag on the Flyers winning a close one and finishing it out at the line, 65-58.
Wear Red, Stay #LOWD. Game time on Sunday is 330pm ET.