High Hopes for New Era of Tulane Basketball
Green Wave basketball joins higher caliber conference with returning men’s and women’s national champions.
This past fall’s opening of the new Yulman Stadium overshadowed Tulane’s move to the new American Athletic Conference (AAC) during football season, but the move’s effects will be much more evident once basketball tips off.
While the AAC was overshadowed on the gridiron, it’s stacked on the hardwood. Devlin Field house should see much higher attendance this year, as excitement for the 2014-15 season is the highest since the days of Perry Clark and the Posse.
“This is the beginning of a new era for Tulane Athletics as we move into an exciting and vibrant league,” says Tulane Athletics Director Rick Dickson. “The exposure and visibility it will bring to Tulane and our programs is unprecedented.”
Highlights on the Green Wave’s schedule include matchups with UConn – defending men’s and women’s national champions, and perennial March Madness contenders Memphis and Cincinnati. Those games will likely be played off-campus at the Smoothie King Center and receive national recognition, elevating awareness of Tulane’s program and, hopefully, increasing the talent pool of recruits.
“I get a smile on my face every day from what this year can mean,” says Green Wave men’s Basketball Head Coach Ed Conroy. “The practice facility has been built. The game-day facility on campus has been renovated. We are changing leagues. There are exciting times ahead for Tulane basketball.”
The men’s team returns four starters and the top five scorers from last year’s team; however they are young. There are six sophomores and four freshmen, with only three upperclassmen – two seniors and a junior – on the squad. Scoring will come from the backcourt with junior guard Louis Dabney, who led the team with 15.2 points per game last season, sophomore guard Jonathan Stark (14.5 ppg) and senior guard Jay Hook (13.9 ppg). Senior forward Tre Drye (6.9 ppg and 7.6 rebounds pg) returns to the front court.
“A year ago there was so much uncertainty on our roster and now we have guys that have played a lot of minutes and gained valuable experience,” Conroy says. “I’ve seen great improvement, especially in our sophomore class. Our freshmen are going to add some pieces that we haven’t had. I think we are on great footing on all facets. We have a young team with some great opportunities ahead of them and it will be exciting going forward.”
The women’s team returns 10 letter-winners who were responsible for 98 percent of the team’s scoring last season, including four seniors – guards Jamie Kaplan and Danielle Blagg and forwards Tiffany Dale and Adesuwa Ebomwonyi.
UConn’s Lady Huskies are arguably the best women’s basketball program in history. In addition to facing them twice, Tulane’s women face a very challenging non-conference schedule including four teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year – NC State, Western Kentucky, Florida State and Sweet Sixteen contender LSU.
With the new conference has come renovations to Devlin Fieldhouse aimed at improving its amenities and aesthetic appeal in order to give it a true basketball feel. The athletic department ensured a cost-conscious price point on admission in hopes of attracting families and young professionals, especially those with ties to the university.
Season ticket prices for Tulane’s inaugural season in The AAC are $300 for premium chair-back seating, $200 for bleacher seating and $400 for the family zone, which includes two adult and two youth tickets for both men’s and women’s basketball seasons. In addition, men’s basketball season ticket holders will have the exclusive opportunity to purchase half-price women’s season tickets. Single game tickets start at $20.
The new era of Tulane Athletics is a source of pride and something to be supported and celebrated.
“With national championships in men’s and women’s basketball, we are a power conference, pure and simple,” says AAC Commissioner Michael Aresco. “I have no doubt Tulane is going to be a great story and will enhance our conference’s national profile and competitive strength.”