Mike Dunleavy Sr. will bring NBA experience to Green Wave

New men’s basketball head coach, Mike Dunleavy Sr, addresses Tulane community at March 29 press conference in Devlin Fieldhouse after being introduced by Athletic Director Troy Dannen and President Michael Fitts. 

Less than two weeks after parting ways with head coach Ed Conroy, the Tulane men’s basketball program has found its next commander in chief. 

Mike Dunleavy, Sr., the former National Basketball Association player and longtime coach, will take the job after negotiations with the team this week, according to sources. The Brooklyn, New York native, 62, has held head coaching positions with the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and most recently the Los Angeles Clippers.

Highlights of Dunleavy’s coaching career include a 1991 run to the NBA Finals, while with the Los Angeles Lakers, and earning NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1999 at Portland.

“We could not be more excited to welcome Mike Dunleavy to the Green Wave family,” Tulane Athletics Director Troy Dannen said in a press release Monday. “His reputation as a great evaluator of talent, master of strategy and teacher of the game define him today as one of the top basketball minds in the country at any level. His commitment to Tulane athletics is a game changer for our program.” 

The new hire flew into New Orleans Monday in preparation for a series of news events and formalities. For Dunleavy, the trip marked the beginning of what he hopes to be a new era in Tulane basketball.

On the playing side, the University of South Carolina shooting guard was the 99th overall pick in the 1976 NBA Draft, selected by the Philadelphia 76ers. He would go on to play with three other NBA teams during his 14-year career. 

After consecutive losing seasons, the Green Wave aims to rebound in its 2016-17 campaign.

Dannen hopes a reprioritization of resources, coupled with a young returning roster, will mean ample opportunities for Dunleavy to make that happen.

“If you want to beat Memphis, you want to beat Houston, and you want to beat Cincinnati and Connecticut on a regular basis, we have to travel the way they do.” Dannen said in a March 14 press conference. “We have to resource our programs the way they do. We have to fund from a salary standpoint the way they do.”

During Tuesday’s press conference in Devlin Fieldhouse, it appeared Dunleavy was already winning the all-important battle for respect from his players. 

“You look at all the people he’s been around, I’m really impressed,” sophomore guard Malik Morgan said. “In the next couple of years, he can take us where he wants and take Tulane higher and higher.”

Dunleavy will be the first Tulane men’s basketball coach with previous NBA coaching or playing experience. He believes his time spent at the professional level, and the connections that come with it, will make the Wave a beacon for top-level talent.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to coach the Green Wave and excited to help develop the students-athletes at Tulane into champions,” Dunleavy said.