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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Green Wave basketball struggles following historic win against Memphis

The Green Wave basketball team has struggled since last weeks win against Memphis (Courtesy of Parker Waters — Tulane Athletics)

Green Wave men’s basketball reached its highest point under coach Ron Hunter over a week ago, after a 2-point win against the University of Memphis Tigers, who were ranked No. 10 at the time, sent fans storming the court to celebrate. No one in Uptown will forget the win anytime soon, but it has also clouded one of the team’s key issues in the next two games, where the Green Wave went 0-2.

The main obstacle standing in the way of the Green Wave is its lack of size, which affects the team’s ability to attack the paint offensively and rebound and defend at a high level.

Having a strong interior presence is key to winning in college basketball. But this problem may be hard for the team to solve this season, since the tallest player on the Green Wave roster is Spencer Elliott, who stands at 6 feet, 10 inches tall. In most games, Tulane opts to stretch the floor, and the tallest player in its starting lineup is normally 6-foot-8 Kevin Cross, who leads the team in rebounding with 7.7 per game. 

Cross has been Tulane’s best player on the court every time he steps on it. He switches well on defense while running point-forward on offense. But Cross as Tulane’s primary interior presence has proven flawed, especially on the glass. Tulane currently ranks 311th out of 362 Division I teams in rebounding with 33.1 a game, and the team has been out-rebounded in every game since the win against Rice University, including the Memphis victory.

Defensively, Tulane has struggled to guard opposing big men. In the recent loss against University of Texas at San Antonio, Roadrunner center Carlton Linguard had his way inside, putting up 31 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three blocks. In the recent loss against University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Blazers had their way in the paint, with 48 out of their 83 points coming from within the painted area. 

While this problem may not be fixed until next season comes with a revamped roster, Hunter can certainly change his rotations to improve the situation. After all, Percy Daniels, Tulane’s sole interior force, only averages 6.3 minutes a game, despite putting up four blocks in the UTSA loss. 

Daniels’s presence may shrink the floor on the offensive side a bit, but giving up more minutes to him and forward Gregg Glenn III, who only plays 10.2 minutes a game, may allow Hunter to open up a new dynamic in the team’s offense. Playing them alongside Cross, who has an excellent passing ability for his size, might allow Tulane to run big-to-big actions and pick-and-rolls, similar to how Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon interact for the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets.

While casual behind-the-head passes might be ridiculous to attempt at this point of the season, Jokic’s ability to see past the double team and find his cutting teammate is the ideal blueprint for Cross. 

The Green Wave hopes to improve on its interior presence on Thursday, when the team travels to Dallas to face off against the Southern Methodist University Mustangs. This game will be broadcasted on ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. CT.

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