OPINION: Men’s basketball shocks in AAC tournament

Josh Dupler, Contributing Reporter

On the eve of huge storms in northern Louisiana, the Green Wave men’s basketball team was in sunny Orlando, Florida about to face an uphill challenge as it sought to become a Cinderella story.

Most pundits and analysts counted the Wave out from the start due to its dismal regular season 10-21 record (3-15 American Athletic Conference), but the Wave found a way to roll not once, but twice.

Tulane’s first win in the AAC tournament came against the seventh seeded University of Central Florida Knights. The win was founded on physical team defense and disciplined offense. In the last two minutes of the game, both teams traded scores and UCF eventually cut Tulane’s lead to one point with 19 seconds left.

Just when fans thought momentum was lost, redshirt sophomore guard Cameron Reynolds came through with two free throws that sealed the deal for a Green Wave victory.

In Tulane’s next monumental feat, the team played the second seeded University of Houston Cougars.

Again, almost everyone counted the Wave out, but the team did not let doubt distract it from getting the victory. The coaching staff prepared the players to block out distractions and stay focused on the goal of getting to the next round.

Tulane trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half, but went on a scoring run of 12-2 midway through the second half to cut the lead to five, and a 7-0 run late in the game to cut it to three.

In the closing minutes of the second half, Tulane put together two stops in a row and answered with two clutch baskets on the other end.

The final shot to tie the game from Houston did not go in, and just like that Tulane won its second game in a row in the postseason for the first time since the 1982-83 season. The players proved that even when no one believed in them, they never gave up.

The semifinal of the AAC tournament was not as pretty for the Green Wave. The Memphis Tigers performed relentlessly in its defense, causing a Tulane tournament high of 18 turnovers. The game saw many scoring runs from both sides, but Memphis was playing on another level.

In what ended up being senior guard Louis Dabney’s final game in olive and blue, the senior lead Tulane with 8 points and did all he could, but, sadly, he could not play the role of David and slay Goliath for the win.

The Green Wave fought hard for every second of this tournament and shocked the viewers. The team won two games against powerful competitors and lost one that just was not meant to be.

Tulane should think about this season as a success. The Green Wave won two games in the conference tournament when it was assumed the team would fall in its first showing. The Wave showed it was a force to reckon with, and the players gave it their all despite the trials and tribulations. As former head coach Ed Conroy said throughout the season and the tournament, “we are the madness.”

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

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