Men’s basketball prepares for first game versus Loyola wolfpack

Kevin Qualman, Contributing Reporter

As the sun begins to set a little bit earlier and the air becomes crisper, the high-paced practices start at Devlin Fieldhouse, signaling the impending arrival of the basketball season.   

Next Thursday Nov. 3, the Green Wave men’s basketball team will open its season against the Loyola Wolfpack for the first game since several changes to Tulane’s program were made. 

“I really like our work ethic,” head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr. said. “Guys are playing hard. They’re trying to play together. I’ve seen them grow in the short time we’ve been together as far as having good spacing and good ball movement and trying to set each other up and make plays for each other. When you’re sharing the ball, a lot of good things happen.”

Dunleavy has taken over a team that struggled last year with turnovers and shooting, ranking No. 236 in the nation in turnovers per game (13.3) and No. 331 shooting 39.7 percent from the field. 

“In reference to last year’s team, shot selection wasn’t great and we had a lot of turnovers,” Dunleavy said. “Those are two areas that we’ve stressed… And then it just comes down to shooting good open shots. Our percentages will go up on that alone.”

Dunleavy has had multiple years of experience coaching in the National Basketball Association, including a couple of seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, who he took to the NBA finals. He also spent several seasons coaching the Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and, most recently, the Los Angeles Clippers. With his arrival, he has brought new experiences to the team, and the team has grown accustomed to his coaching style. 

“Everybody has adapted really well [to a new coach],” redshirt senior guard Malik Morgan said. “Everybody is coming in and putting in extra work. Everybody is getting extra shots up with coach after practice, just working on the shots that we’ll be getting in the games so we’ll be able to knock those down.”

Morgan, who averaged 12.2 points per game last year, is one of the more veteran players on the team. Senior center Ryan Smith contributed 2.4 points per game in the past season. Both players will be key leaders on the team in the upcoming season.

The Green Wave added fresh faces to the team over the summer as well. The team currently has three freshmen on its roster: guards Ray Ona Embo and Colin Slater along with forward Darian Jones. In addition, sophomore forward and former Chilean national team member Sammis Reyes transferred to Tulane and will play for the Green Wave this season. 

Loyola has already had its first game of the season, winning 74-60 against Carver Bible College. Senior guard/forward Johnny Griffin Jr. led the way with a double-double, scoring 16 points and recording 13 rebounds.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3 at Devlin Fieldhouse.