MARCH 28, 2019

Ron Hunter

By Sam Vancini

Tuesday, Tulane had an introductory press conference to announce the signing of former Georgia State coach, Ron Hunter, to lead the Green Wave basketball team, replacing the recently fired, Mike Dunleavy Sr.

When Tulane first hired Mike Dunleavy Sr. roughly 3 years ago, he was considered an outside-the-box hire: he came in boasting a resume that included being former NBA coach of the year, but there were question marks as to whether his coaching style would necessarily translate to the collegiate game.

Last week, in the wake of the firing of Dunleavy, Tulane athletic director, Troy Dannen, mentioned that for the new hire, we could expect a more “inside the box” hire. We could expect someone who had head coaching experience at the collegiate level, and more importantly, at the NCAA tournament level. Ron Hunter checks all of those boxes off and more, as he has been a collegiate head coach for the past twenty years, and in three of the last five years he has been to the NCAA tournament. Additionally, Hunter has rebuilt and overseen the transition into a new conference at both IUPUI (from NAIA to the Summit Conference) and at Georgia State (from the CAA to the Sun Belt).

Many college basketball fans will remember Hunter’s name from when he notoriously fell out of his chair following a deep 3-pointer that his son RJ Hunter made in the first round of the NCAA tournament as 14-seeded Georgia State toppled the 3-seeded Baylor in the 2015 NCAA tournament. But what else will Hunter bring to the Green Wave hoops team?

Charisma

This may seem evident given the incident just described, but Hunter is an emotional coach. When you listen to Hunter speak to his players and to the media, you can feel the tangible bond that Hunter feels with his players. This quality will undoubtedly help on the recruiting trail. Despite making the move from Atlanta to New Orleans, Hunter recently said he expects Atlanta to be a “hot recruiting base for (Tulane)” -- further noting that he plans on recruiting New Orleans “but if I end up with 13 kids from Atlanta, I’ll be okay with that too”.

Efficiency on both ends of the floor

Ron Hunter is definitely a coach who prides himself on efficiency on both ends of the floor. Offensively, Hunter’s teams tend to be disciplined and not turn the ball over. In fact, per KenPom, in three of the last six seasons, Georgia State has ranked in the top 50 for lowest offensive turnover percentage. In 2014, Georgia State had the lowest turnover percentage in the country at just 11.9%. For reference, Tulane ranked 317th in the country this past year in this stat, boasting a TO% of 21%. Furthermore, Hunter’s teams typically are efficient in shooting as well as Georgia State has ranked in the top 75 for effective field goal percentage five of the past six years.

Defensively, creating turnovers are a staple of Hunter’s coaching scheme. Georgia State has ranked in the top 50 nationally in defensive turnover percentage, block percentage, and steal percentage in four of the last six seasons. Again, for reference, this past season Tulane ranked 338th nationally in defensive turnover percentage, 215th in block percentage, and 322nd in steal percentage. Expect Ron Hunter to bring in a renewed sense of discipline on both ends of the floor.

Expectations

As aforementioned, Ron Hunter brings to Tulane a resume filled with winning and trips to the postseason. Correspondingly, Hunter did not short sell himself at the press conference, as  he immediately set the bar high for both himself and the team next season stating that his two primary goals for next year were: “Number 1: pulling off the biggest turnaround in NCAA history, from being 0-18 in conference, to going to the NCAA tournament, and Number 2: Proving everyone wrong.”

The Reality

This hire is a lot like the hiring of Tulane Football Head Coach, Willie Fritz was a few years back. Fritz, like Hunter, had a tendency to turnaround programs. Correspondingly, Hunter (like Fritz) will likely need time to develop the young Tulane roster before they’ll be ready to compete. Tulane has a solid young core, despite what the record will have you believe, but the emphasis is on the word young. It is definitely fair for Tulane fans to be optimistic, this hire is about as good as Troy Dannen could have hoped for. Of course it is also reasonable for fans to be skeptical, it has been a long time since Green Wave hoops have seen the NCAA tournament. Only time will tell, but on the surface this is the ideal hire for the Tulane Green Wave, and I think Green Wave fans have a lot to look forward to with Ron Hunter over the next few years.

NOVEMBER 25, 2018

Tulane Recruit Visitor List: The Navy Game

Here is who the Wave hosted in the final Home Game at Yulman

By JP Gooderham

Tulane hosted several recruits for the final home game of the year, when the Green Wave clinched a bowl game with a 29-28 win over Navy.

Here's the group who attended:

1: Cooper Dawson - DL, Hanahan (SC) on Official Visit

An uncommitted DE, the 3-star out of South Carolina boasts an impressive offer list including Clemson, Vandy, Wake, and UCF. He has made OVs to the Knights and Army so far, it appears.

2: Tyler Judson - DB, Zachary (LA)

Judson is a high 3-star according to 247, and he's made a visit to UVA and recently decommitted from Ole Miss.

3: Brant Banks - OL, Westbury Christian (TX)

Banks is a Top 200 recruit in Texas according to 247, and he has earned an impressive offer list in the process, including Nebraska and Baylor.

4: Nick Anderson - LB, Jones County JUCO (MS)

Anderson is a current Southern Alabama commit according to 247, but he has offers from ULM and Tulane as well.

5: Chandler Whitfield - WR, Zachary (LA)

Whitfield is an uncommitted 3-star recruit according to 247.

NOVEMBER 11, 2018

Tulane wins its first Homecoming since 2013 and becomes co-leader of the AAC West

Much like the Pirates of the Caribbean, the ECU Pirates were defeated by the Mooney

By JP Gooderham

With 48 seconds left in the ballgame, the scene in Yulman Stadium was all too familiar.

Tulane, seemingly with the game in hand since going up 14-3 with 5:03 left in the first half, was in truth defending a 6-point lead, just a breakdown in coverage away from the latest in a long line of Homecoming nightmares.

On a cold night in New Orleans, the Green Wave Defense -- the foundation of this three-game winning streak -- said not today. While there was some added drama when the referees incorrectly ruled a long pass from ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers complete... potenitally putting the Pirates in striking distance late in the 4th quarter, the pleas of Tulane fans watching the replay were answered: a Pirate cleat had dragged across the sideline first, and Homecoming belonged to the Green Wave for the first time since 2013.

While Ahlers only threw one pick, it sure felt like the Wave Defense could have rung up the freshman quarteback for five or six interceptions throughout the night. As Guerry points out, the Green Wave not only set an NCAA high for pass breakups this season with 20... that's the most in NCAA history since the stat was started in 2000:

On the offensive side of the ball, the boom and bust nature of this offense continued, with undefeated starter Justin McMillan finding paydirt with touchdowns to Darnell Mooney (86 yards, 2nd play of the drive), Terren Encalade (73 yards, 6th play of the drive), and then Mooney again in the 2nd half (79 yards, 1st play of the drive).

Overall, ECU leveraged its speed to do a much better job than USF in defending the run, holding the Green Wave to 3.3 yards per carry, with Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine getting 19 and 17 carries respectively. For Dauphine, while he did not find the checkerboards as he is prone to do, Wave fans can be happy to see his third straight game with over 15 rushing attempts.

Mooney, who has delivered several big games this year, rode a 217 yard performance with two touchdowns to increase his season total to a haul of 829 yards, putting a 1,000 yard campaign in play.

Above all, in my view, the Green Wave defense delivered in a big way to keep the freshman Ahlers uncomfortable all night, finishing with a 21 for 67 (31%) stat line and taking five sacks in the process. That's a significant step back from his last two starts, passing for 55% against both UCF and Memphis in his first two weeks as QB1 for the Pirates.

Unfortunately, breaking a Homecoming losing streak and rising to co-lead the AAC West had to come with some bad news as well: Patrick Johnson, a standout this year, was hit with a targeting call that will lead to a suspension for the first half next week at Houston. That's a bad break for a Wave Defense already dealing with some banged up personnel, as Johnson has been outstanding throughout 2018.

Let's get to the big picture.

Big Picture: Welcome to AAC Westworld

I know everyone is talking about the b-word and such, but how about Tulane becoming a co-leader of the AAC West for the first time in program history.

With four wins through the first six conference games, Tulane has already set its school high for AAC wins, with two more shots to the add to that title.

Green Wave great Nico Marley, who should be on staff as an official motivator for all games going forward, said as much in his pregame talk to the team:

As much talk as there has been about getting to six, Marley righly challenges the team to focus instead on getting to seven wins.

And doing so would be a huge deal.

Houston, SMU, and Tulane are all now tied for the AAC West. Here are the remaining schedules:

Houston:
- vs. Tulane
- @ Memphis

SMU:
- vs. Memphis
- @ Tulsa

Tulane:
- @ Houston
- Navy (Trident Trophy)

With that in mind, the Mustangs certainly have the best road and control their own destiny, with wins (and H2H tiebreakers) over the Cougars and Wave. Memphis would break this thing open for the other teams, should they knock off SMU next week.

Tulane will have the national game on Thursday night against Houston on ESPN. The Cougars, who fell in Yulman last year to set up a bowl run that did not come to be, are fighting a tailspin right now after dropping to Temple last night.

To make matters worse, destroyer of worlds Ed Oliver has been out since the Navy game when he suffered this brutal "block."

He didn't dress last night, and it isn't inconveivable to think that Oliver could be out once again. That would certainly be a break, as the Cougars have taken a huge step back defensively while giving up 7 rushing touchdowns last night against the Owls of Temple.

This is a massive game for Tulane against a Houston team that was challenging for a NY6 berth before this slide. No doubt both teams will be taking this one seriously in a short week, and we're about to see a big time battle in front of a national television audience.

What was Tweeted

No Tulane player had experienced a Homecoming win at Yulman before last night.

And they were hyped:

FTW writer and team ambassador Janny Meza used his new shirt to make connections for our rising media juggernaut. T-Shirts will be on sale for everyone this week.

Shout out to everyone who had them on at the tailgate yesterday.

Getting closer...

Shout out to everyone who braved the cold for the first Happy Homecoming in the stadium. On to Beat Houston week. Stay Angry, my friends.

NOVEMBER 09, 2018

Tulane Recruit Visitor List: Homecoming Game

List of Commits and Targets Who Will be On Hand

By JP Gooderham

While Tulane faces a major battle tomorrow for Homecoming (FTWCast preview podcast here), the Green Wave will have a number of commits and targets for 2019 on campus.

Here is the list of expected visitors.

Official Visits

1: Jalen McCleskey - WR (Official Visit)

Oklahoma State transfer and former 3-star wide receiver. Son of Tulane coach JJ McCleskey.

2: J'Coryan Anderson - 3-star LB (Official Visit)

Uncommitted linebacker out of Tennesee.

Current Tulane Commits:

3: Colby Orgeron - OL

4: Tyjae Spears - RB

5: Kiland Harrison - DB

6: Conner Richardson - TE

2019 Targets:

7: Tyrone Lewis - DB

High 3-star DB with offers from Utah, Arkansas, and more.

8: JhaQuan Jackson - WR (SMU)

SMU commit out of Hanhnville (WR / ATH) ranked as a high 3-star by 247.

9: Swayze Boseman - LB (Co-Lin, MS - JUCO)

JUCO linebacker with several FBS offers.

10: Martin Butcher - QB

Newman Greenie who has an FBS offer already from UAB.

11: Desmyn Baker - TE

Clinton, MS tight end / wide receiver.

12: Markel Cotton - ATH (McNeese State Commit)

2020 Recruits

Josh Remetich OL Holy Cross
Khi Matheiu WR St Aug
Corey Smooth DB Rummel
Quinton Cage DB Rummel
Donovan Kaufman DB Rummel
Edgerrin Cooper LB Covington
Jarmone Sutherland WR Newman
Taylor Thompson TE Prattville AL
Jett Duncan OL Woodlands TX
Patrick Jenkins DL Ehret
Miles Stewart RB Lusher
Israel Whitmore LB Choctaw Co MS

NOVEMBER 04, 2018

Tulane enters the AAC West Race after Out-Running the Bulls

Wave off to best AAC start with 3-2 record and ECU on the horizon

By JP Gooderham

Reports of Tulane's demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Just 8 days ago, facing a 2-5 record and with two league road games on the horizon, Wave fans and the media alike were ready to stick a fork in this one.

Oh what a difference a week or so makes, as the Green Wave has come out on the other side with a signature win over a team that entered Ray J with a 7-1 record (and two P5 wins this year) and, in the long view, a credible route to the elusive six win mark.

While the Bulls were ranked by Bill Connelly as the #23 offense in the country, the firepower sure felt like it was on the Wave's sidelines, as the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and the Wave took advantage time and time again.

The final score: Tulane 41 - USF 15.

In the end, this matchup would see huge days from Darius Bradwell (135 Yards, 1 TD, 9.0 YPC) and Corey Dauphine (114 Yards, 2 TDs, 7.2 YPC), and both produced explosive runs for their highlight reels.

The tandem complemented each other yesterday, with Bradwell's power running producing opportunities once he bowled into the second level, and Dauphine's explosiveness posing a threat all day for the Bulls.

Amare Jones, a true freshman running back out of Texas, looked hungry throughout the day in his role as a returner. It feels like it's been a while since we've had a serious threat in our special teams, and Jones has looked liable to break one off nearly every time he touched the ball yesterday (even getting visibly frustrated with a teammate, who called fair catch when Amare wanted the rock). He would cap his day with a late touchdown to extend the Wave's lead even further, making it four Tulane players with a rushing TD.

Justin McMillan Opened It Up

While the Bulls struck first with a field goal (on a 12 play drive that stalled in the red zone), this run from quarterback Justin McMillan, making his second college start, broke things open.

The Wave would go up 7-3 and never turn back.

Tulane's Defense is Out-Performing Expectations

Calling a spade a spade here, let's remember that the Tulane Defense was supposed to be bad this year. Not average. Not mediocre. Bad.

Yet once again, we're in November, and Jack Curtis's unit has been a foundation for this team while the offensive has worked to find its groove (despite the big plays, the Wave was just 4 for 14 on third downs yesterday).

As our friend Collin Sherwin (formerly of the Daily Stampede) pointed out on our FTWCast this week, the interior run game is a critical element of this offense, and the Wave's ability to shut down the run put tremendous pressure on USF throughout the day.

In fact, the Bulls entered the game as the #17 rushing offense in the country, averaging 228 yards per game. Instead, they would finish with a meager 110 total team rushing yards, much of which came on a breakout run by quarterback Blake Barnett in the first half.

Star running back Jordan Cronkite, echoing Memphis's Darrell Henderson against the Wave, was a non-factor, carrying the ball just six times once the Bulls were down for a total of 13 yards (he's had 120+ five times this season).

All of that is even more impressive when you consider that Cam Sample, a key player in this defense, suffered a gruesome looking knee injury due to a suspect cut block (we're still waiting to hear what his status is, but he did not return).

Above all, what stands out to me is the impact that the youth movement in this Defense has continued to make. They are flat out getting better on a week-to-week basis, and it showed yesterday, including this forced fumble by sophomore Tirise Barge as USF was putting together one of its few successful drives.

Sophomore Jaylon Monroe's lockdown defense in the second half comes to mind as another force late in the game to keep the former 5-star QB at bay.

And of course, sometimes it's just your day, as highlighted by Zachery Harris with this glorious one-handed INT:

JP Gets Salty with... The Media

Man, I usually don't roll with the media conspiracy card. I get that LSU and SEC Football move the needle in this state. It's probably crazy in this ad-based journalism world to expect anything remotely like equal coverage.

With that being said, I noticed how absurdly quiet it was during the game (shout out to Guerry Smith at The Advocate of course though). Mind you, this wasn't just Tulsa or something... Tulane was beating down a team near the AP Poll Top 25 and inserting itself in the AAC West race.

Meanwhile, what a bummer that the local folks chose not let ANYONE know that the Wave was even playing (Exhibit A: we're like 14 hours out at at the time of this writing, and NOLA News' Twitter hasn't mentioned once that the game even happened).

Then, with my saltiness near an all-time high (and encouraged by me being overseas and bascially being a vegetarian for the past three weeks... it's really not good...), I noticed this impressive spread on NOLA.com today providing a a steady stream of diverse sports stories from the greater New Orleans region:

times picayune lsu coverage

Like come on. They lost 29-0. They were a 14 point underdog that didn't come close to covering the spread, with their "best fans in football" in the house and whatnot. They gave up 600 yards of offense to a much better team and did nothing of their own. You really need 7 dang stories to explain to folks that they were a wet fart, full of sound and fury, amounting to nothing?

It's one thing when people say no one cares about Tulane because we're bad. It's another thing when you can't allocate a single story to an FBS team with many New Orleans and Louisiana HS players on it breaking through in a big way. End of rant.

Big Picture

Tulane advances to Homecoming with a 4-5 record that importantly includes a 3-2 AAC mark. That's the best start for the Wave in league history, as notably our history has mostly been a dumpster rolling off Mike Areso's driveway since joining the conference.

There are now three teams that can win the AAC West.

standings

Of course, none of that matters for Tulane if they can't get the Homecoming monkey off their backs. I know we're out of Halloween season, but let's get spooky for a minute.

Tulane has not won a Homecoming since the last Bowl Wave year in 2013 (beating North Texas). Since then, it's been downright impressive how crappy this shindig has been for us.

2014: Memphis rolls Tulane 38-7. No idea why we thought that was a good idea for HC.
2015: UConn wins 7-3 in a cold, dark nightmare of a game where there were no offensive touchdowns
2016: SMU comes back in the 4th quarter to win 35-31.
2017: Tulane misses a chip shot field goal to fall 17-16 to a struggling Cincinnati

ECU is bad. Tulane should win. But dang, priority #1 is getting this bad juju out of our systems. If they can exorcise those pirate demons next week at Yulman, we'll be in business for a very big opportunity @ Houston.

Finally, in closing, I should note that yesterday was not only the biggest road win for Tulane in their AAC history... it was the second largest margin of victory ever for us in the league:

And here's a good note from Guerry:

All of that is to say... Tulane got its signature win in style. On to Homecoming. Stay Angry, and Beat ECU.

And of course, here's the ceremonial Fritz Crowd Surf:

Stray Tweets, Considered

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