Wrapping up: Green Wave men’s basketball finishes much-improved season


Photo courtesy Greg Fencik

Senior Cam Reynolds goes into a triple threat in his final regular season game at UCF. Reynolds was Tulane’s only senior this year.

With Tulane men’s basketball’s loss at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the team officially finished its regular season. The 2017-18 campaign will end with a record of 14-16, along with a record of 5-13 in American Athletic Conference play.

Though the team finished 10th in conference for the second year in a row, this year’s season was in fact an improvement.

In the 2016-17 season, Tulane finished with an overall record of 6-25 and an AAC record of 3-15. While the team only won two more in-conference games this year, the Wave garnered eight additional wins overall.

These eight wins gave solid proof that the Green Wave is making progress, especially in out-of-conference play. Head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. touted this progress as a product of the team’s familiarity with him, his system and their fellow players.

“It’s our second year of being in a system,” Dunleavy said. “Last year, I was teaching every guy, 14 individuals, so it probably took us until the last 10 games of the season last year for our guys to have even a decent idea of what we were trying to do … this year, coming in, we had 10 guys back … Being more familiar with each other, having played a year together allowed them to play better together and allowed us to get off to a better start.”

While Tulane did not have a win over a ranked team, the Wave did acquire one marquee win over the University of Houston Cougars on Jan. 17. Houston was not ranked at the time of the win, but the team is currently ranked No. 21 in AP’s Top 25 poll, likely giving the Cougars a tournament berth. With a win over a team like Houston, the Wave proved that it can play at a high level.

Unfortunately, the Green Wave will lose a star in redshirt senior Cameron Reynolds following the AAC Tournament. Luckily for the Wave, the team has many up-and-coming players who will be returning next fall to continue the recent growth.

One of these players, junior guard Melvin Frazier, was recently selected to the All-AAC second team after his stellar season. Dunleavy was outspoken in his praise of Frazier’s development.

“[Melvin’s] offensive game improved a whole lot [this year],” Dunleavy said. “Last year we came in and changed his shot around. He became a real good rhythm shooter this year, shooting 39 percent from the three-point line. [Frazier] also gets to the free throw line … but the fact is that he attacks the rim, and we’ve, understanding his game, put him in position to be efficient.”

Dunleavy was also encouraged by the development of the team’s freshmen, including guard Caleb Daniels and forward Bul Ajang.

“Both [Daniels and Ajang] have definitely gotten good playing time,” Dunleavy said. “Bul [Ajang] as of recently has had a rash of minutes, and he’s played at a high level for us. Caleb Daniels was playing really well all along for us. Before the start of the season he sprained an ankle, which kind of hobbled him a little bit, but since conference play, he’s been averaging close to 10 points per game … so both of those guys have been giving us some really solid minutes.”

Overall, Green Wave men’s basketball fans will have much to look forward to in the coming years. With up-and-coming players such as Frazier, Ajang and Daniels, and proof of legitimacy with a win over a now-ranked Houston, Tulane will have more talent to rely on than it has had in years past.

Under the leadership of Dunleavy, a former NBA coach of 17 years, the team has an opportunity to truly reach new heights. While Tulane has a long way to go to reach national acclaim, this near .500 season is a big step in the right direction.

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