OCTOBER 11, 2018

Takeaways from Tulane Basketball Media Day

By Sam Vancini

Going into the 2018/19 season, the Tulane Green Wave Men’s basketball team will be without Cameron Reynolds and Melvin Frazier, whom averaged 31 points per game combined last season for the Wave.

This undoubtedly left many questions for Tulane hoops fans heading into the 2018/19 season as there has been great uncertainty as to how the team will look. At Tulane basketball media day, Coach Mike Dunleavy, was able to answer those questions and more. Here’s some key takeaways from Media Day:

Tulane will try to replace Reynolds and Frazier’s impact “by committee”

In his opening statement at Tulane Media Day, Coach Dunleavy said “obviously we’ve got a lot of filling in to do… People ask the question, how are you going to do that? And, it’s really going to be by committee”.

Dunleavy then went on to note that in his past couple years at Tulane, we have seen players increase their scoring greatly from year to year (Cam Reynolds between 2016 and 2017 and Melvin Frazier between 2017 and 2018) and that he expects us to see something similar this year.

These huge increases in scoring for Reynolds and Frazier led to them each respectively winning AAC Most Improved Player of the Year.

I was able to speak with sophomore Caleb Daniels, who agreed with me that he thinks the AAC Most Improved Player of the Year should rightfully go to another Tulane player this year; however, he’s not so concerned about it being himself: “my main concern, honestly, is just to have a winning season and just to make everyone better”.

Dunleavy noted that this year’s team is likely the deepest team the Green Wave have had in his tenure at Tulane and that we will likely see the absence of Frazier and Reynolds in scoring filled in “across the board”. Caleb Daniels reiterated Dunleavy’s sentiment, “we have more depth this year. The points will be distributed more evenly this year, as opposed to us depending on Cam and Melvin last year”.

It is safe to say we can expect this years team to be not as star-driven and more so a deep team in which each player is able to play a key role.

Optimism surrounding new players

Dunleavy was extremely optimistic about how all of the new players (including redshirt freshmen Buay Koka and Shakwon Barrett) the Green Wave will have this year. Early on in his press conference Dunleavy noted that Shakwon Barrett was likely Tulane’s most creative playmaker.

What was particularly interesting, however, was how highly Coach Dunleavy seems to think of redshirt freshman, Buy Koka. Dunleavy stated that Koka ran a 5:38 mile last year and “runs the floor like a deer”. Dunleavy later went on to say the following about Koka, “7 feet, 7’7 wingspan, you’re going to love his effort... From the standpoint of shot blocking, offensive rebounding, everything he does running the floor, you’re going to see something great there.”

Dunleavy also seems to be pleased with how the true freshmen look, as he said “I have no qualms about those guys being able to play minutes, or even big minutes in a game.” He further stated that their particular strength resides in their shot making ability, as they are all able to excellently spread the floor.

Expect these five players to be the X-factor for the Green Wave this season. Pondering what the potential for this season is, Dunleavy said “honestly will be dependent on how these new guys blend in and assimilate” and that he is “excited for the direction of the program”.

Returning players look to be more consistent

The bulk of the media day was spent talking about the five newcomers, however, there were a few things said about returners.

First, Dunleavy raved about the physical condition of Samir Sehic, saying that Sehic is likely the most agile big man on Tulane’s team this year. Dunleavy also further stated that he expects Sehic to make big strides defensively this year.

Dunleavy expects to see more consistency in shooting from both Jordan Cornish and Ray Ona Embo. Dunleavy expects that the manner Tulane will help to do this is to get them “the best shots for [them]”.

Overall, expect the Green Wave to be a deep team this year, centered around a high-paced, primarily 3 point shooting offense. There should be plenty of new faces making big contributions this year, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out early on.