At Media Day, men’s and women’s basketball anticipate strong season

Senior+guard+Jamie+Kaplan+dribbles+the+ball+upcourt+in+a+80-52+win+against+Southeastern+Louisiana+Nov.+19%2C+2013.+Head+coach+Lisa+Stockton+said+Kaplan+will+serve+as+one+of+the+teams+leaders+this+season.%C2%A0

Senior guard Jamie Kaplan dribbles the ball upcourt in a 80-52 win against Southeastern Louisiana Nov. 19, 2013. Head coach Lisa Stockton said Kaplan will serve as one of the team’s leaders this season. 

Oliver Grigg, Print Sports Editor

Tulane women’s basketball head coach Lisa Stockton and men’s basketball coach Ed Conroy held their annual Media Day Tuesday in the newly erected Yulman Stadium. 

Both coaches said they feel more pressure to succeed as both programs enter their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference. Nonetheless, they said their teams have the ability to compete with all the schools in the conference.

Women’s basketball, which returns 11 of 13 letter winners and 98 percent of its offense in total scoring, opens its season against Mississippi Valley State 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at Devlin Fieldhouse. Stockton was not shy about her expectations for the upcoming season.

“It’s great to have so many players come back,” Stockton said. “We’ve also added some quality players to the team, so our expectations are high.” 

Freshman guard Kolby Morgan, a local New Orleans product and sister of men’s basketball junior transfer guard Malik Morgan, is one of the key incoming recruits joining the Wave this season. Stockton said Kolby Morgan’s speed and ability to score makes her an immediate impact-type player. 

“[Kolby Morgan] has some speed that we haven’t had in a long time,” Stockton said. “She has proven she’s a tremendous scorer, and … she’s going to help us run our up-tempo offense a lot more.”

Senior guards Danielle Blagg and Jamie Kaplan and senior forward Tiffany Dale will be counted on to lead the Wave’s offensive attack and serve as role models for the younger players, including Morgan. Kaplan started all 31 games during the 2013-14 season and Blagg claimed honorable mention Associated Press All-American and second-team All-Conference USA after ranking No. 7 nationally in assists per game with 6.8. 

Stockton said that Blagg will be the main focus of many opposing defenses and that she wants to make an effort to use Blagg in other facets of the game. 

“[Blagg] has proven to be one of the best shooters in the country,” Stockton said. “This year could be a little different for her because we have some more offensive weapons that we’ve hadn’t had … She’s going to be the focus of a lot of defenses and if we can create some things for her that’s not just shooting, I think you’re going to see her really develop.”

Men’s basketball will look to follow up its 2013-14 season, during which it went 17-17, 8-8 Conference USA and earned an invitation to the College Basketball Invitational. The Wave will open with an exhibition game against Loyola New Orleans 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Devlin Fieldhouse, and Conroy said the team is stronger than ever.

“I don’t think there is any question it is the most depth we’ve been able to have since we’ve been here,” Conroy said. “[The team] is physically more ready for college basketball.“

Unlike past years, Conroy said the Wave has the ability to dominate the court offensively and defensively. This is in part to the depth and athleticism of the Wave’s roster. 

“This year we can dictate tempo on both ends of the floor better,” Conroy said. “Anytime you are the team that can dictate tempo because of depth and athleticism that affords you opportunity to play with all different types of opponents.”

Among the key returners are junior guard Louis Dabney, senior guard Jay Hook and sophomore guard Jonathan Stark. While the three will be relied on to helm Tulane’s backcourt and delivering the offensive firepower, each have an important role in grooming the team’s most talented freshman, guard Keith Pinckney.

“I would say that [Pinckney], comparatively to where he is this October to where [Stark] was [in October of 2013], [Pinckney] is probably ahead of where [Stark] was,” Conroy said.