Tulane vs. Loyola: The Battle for Freret Street

This Thursday marks a yearly tradition, as the Tulane men’s basketball team squares off against the Loyola University New Orleans Wolf Pack in the second of two preseason exhibitions. The Green Wave won on Tuesday by a score of 84-74 in the team’s first preseason matchup against the LSU Tigers.

With only a few steps separating the Tulane and Loyola campuses, the annual preseason game has a special meaning for both programs. Along with the normal lineup experimentation and fine-tuning of the preseason, the game will boast the extensive history of a yearly matchup between two schools in such close proximity that their students often eat meals at each other’s dining hall.

Tulane and Loyola have only met in the regular season 10 times, with Tulane’s only loss in the series dating back to 1972, and the matchup between the two teams has only become a staple in Tulane’s preseason schedule in recent years. In the 2016 rendition, Tulane won the contest by a score of 80-58. The Green Wave was led by senior Malik Morgan and sophomore Melvin Frazier, who combined for 38 points and an efficient 8-10 from beyond the arc.

This season, senior Cameron Reynolds said he thinks Loyola will be up to the challenge. Reynolds led Tulane last season, averaging 17 points per game and winning the 2017 American Athletic Conference Most Improved Player of the Year Award. The opposing Wolf Pack finished fourth in the Southern States Athletic Conference last year, posting a 22-10 record.

“I would say it’s a rivalry. We play them every year, and they’re going to bring their A-game every time,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds also said he believes there is extra motivation for both teams, particularly bragging rights.

“You want to show that you’re the D1 team, and they want to show they can beat the D1 team,” he said.

In anticipation of this year’s matchup, Reynolds said this year’s Tulane team is “light-years ahead” of last year’s squad, a claim highlighted by the surprising victory over LSU Tuesday night. He expects the Green Wave to bring better defensive pressure and execution on both ends of the floor.

Head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr., coaching in his second season for the Green Wave, said he believes the series is a friendly rivalry.

“Obviously you play and you want to win, but also ultimately after we play them we want to see them do well,” Dunleavy said.

Despite the game being a preseason matchup, both teams will be bringing an in-season mindset onto the court.

“It’s important for our guys to play hard and to execute and to win. I think everybody takes all of their games about as serious as you can,” Dunleavy said.

He further reiterated that the team’s priority does not have to do with its opponent, but with winning each game.

“Our challenge every game is nothing personal against who we’re playing. We want to win every single game. Our challenge every game is execution,” Dunleavy said. “You know if we do a great job of executing then we’re going to give ourselves the opportunities to win the game. So in the preseason, that’s what you’re focusing on.”

Dunleavy will specifically be looking for how Tulane stacks up against another team in terms of conditioning in addition to offensive execution, rebounding and communication among teammates.

After Thursday’s game, Tulane will open the regular season against LIU Brooklyn at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10. The game will be held at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in Devlin Fieldhouse and can be viewed on ESPN3.

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