TU’s basketball season is over. That is a sad thing. I really like basketball and I like watching it live. TU had a pretty good year. It would have been nice if they made the NCAA tournament, but they still had a fun and exciting year despite not going to the ship. In this article I am going to talk about the short term and long term future of TU basketball plus some improvements they can make.
The short term future of the Golden Hurricane looks bright. Every starter is returning and the most underrated aspect of basketball is chemistry. Most of these guys have been playing together for four years now and know every aspect of each other’s games. That makes a huge difference when you are playing a team of all freshmen.
Seeing a team with seven seniors on it is rare in college basketball these days. It has been a very influential class for TU basketball. They made TU relevant again. Nobody gave a shit about TU basketball when I was a freshman.
They literally used to give away money so people would come. Seriously, I won fifty dollars once because I was the “rowdiest” fan there. That is the only down side of people showing up to games now. They do not give away money anymore. Besides that it is awesome that people actually give a shit now.
Back to the point though, TU’s short term future looks good, but the current players could all improve certain parts of their game to make the team better.
Shaq Harrison had a breakout season last year. He was second on the team in points and first in assists and led the team in “holy shit dunks” which is when somebody dunks and it makes the whole crowd say, “holy shit!” He averaged about one of those dunks a game, but he has one major flaw in his game—he cannot shoot.
There is a reason he had at least twenty points in the first five conference games then fell off after that. Teams started watching tape and realized all he did was drive and started playing zone. I was sitting behind a scout at one of the games this year and I looked over his shoulder to see what he was saying about our players. The first thing he wrote about Shaq was, “no shot.”
Shaq would be a lottery pick if he had any semblance of a shot. He is a 6’4 crazy athletic point guard with good vision. If he wants to make the next step as a player he needs a jump shot.
James Woodard is basically the exact opposite of Shaq. Just think if Woodard and Shaq did the Fusion Dance from “Dragon Ball Z” and became Shaq Woodard. They would have been a favorite for the Wooden Award.
They would have averaged 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals as Shaq Woodard, but sadly the Fusion Dance is not real so they are still separate people.
The main areas that Woodard needs to improve in are his handling and passing. Woodard is a really good shooter and got most of his threes off catch-and-shoot opportunities. He can get a lot more shots if he improves his handling. The reason his assist numbers were so low is because not many people on the team could make jump shots besides him.
Some things other people can improve on the team: Rashad Smith should improve his handling and jump shot to be a better inside-out player. Deandre Wright needs to turn the ball over less. Mainly he needs to keep the ball up when he gets offensive rebounds. Rashad Ray needs to stop being so hesitant and be more aggressive.
As a team, I think we need to play faster. You could see in the NIT that the thirty second shot clock hurt TU because for some reason Frank Haith likes to wait until the last ten seconds of a shot clock to take a shitty shot. I think I have said this before, but who cares. TU needs to play faster.
We will never get McDonald All-American recruits as a small school—we need something to set us apart. Right now we play slow and we are somewhat effective on defense. The main reason I think we should play fast is because we are a guard heavy team with athletic big men, besides Big E, and we have had attendance problems for years and playing an exciting style of basketball will put butts in seats.
This kind of style is a style you live or die by. You might score a hundred points or you might shoot thirty percent and lose by thirty. I would rather play this way and lose than keep playing so cautious and blowing leads like we did against UConn in the Conference semifinals.
My last point is about the future of the program. Frank Haith has Danny Manning’s recruits for one more year and then it’s all his own guys after that. I am a big Mizzou fan so I have watched Frank Haith coach for a couple years now. He did really well with other people’s recruits, but once he got his own it was rough. He brought in really good recruits, but he did not seem to develop them well.
There is also a lot less pressure at Tulsa than Mizzou. After this senior class graduates we will really see what kind of coach Frank Haith can be at Tulsa.