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20 Tulsa
Team Page | 2002-2003 Schedule | Roster

Lacking big names and big players, the Golden Hurricane gets the job done by sticking together

By Seth Davis

Sports Illustrated
 

Swanson, the nation's top three-point shooter in '01-02, also had a hand in Tulsa's swarming, smothering D. David E. Klutho
ENEMY LINES
An opposing coach's view
"Their strength is on the perimeter. All of their guards can play any position in the backcourt. ... Kevin Johnson might be the most underrated player in the country. He's extremely athletic and a very quick jumper. That makes him play taller than he is. ... Their lack of size should be a weakness, but it hasn't hurt them much. Offensive rebounding must be a major emphasis against them. ... Antonio Reed made a lot of clutch shots for them last year. He's proved he can shoot the three, so teams will have to make him put it on the floor more this year. ... They want the tempo to be fast. They'll run as much after made baskets as missed ones. You can't turn the ball over to them in the half-court, or they'll make you pay. ... A team that can match up with their guards will frustrate them more than anything."
After playing in a high school all-star game in the spring of 1999, Antonio Reed and Dante Swanson, two Oklahoma natives who had signed with Tulsa, learned that they were related. "We went into the stands and saw our parents talking to one another," Reed says. "We didn't know why until they asked, 'Did y'all know you were cousins?'" The two have since become close, and they've extended that bond to the other members of the team. Together the group has won 85 games at Tulsa over the past three years -- a total second only to Duke's -- despite having three different coaches.

With four starters returning from last year's 27-7 WAC championship team, there's every reason to believe that the winning will continue. "It's a tremendous help to know your teammates so well," says Swanson. "We all agreed that we would stick together no matter what, and it's paid off." Good chemistry is especially critical for a team on which no one is taller than 6'8". Tulsa compensates for its lack of size with one of the best up-tempo attacks in the country. Four players made more than 36% of their three-point attempts last season, including Swanson, who sank a nation's best 49.0% from behind the arc, including an eye-popping 56.9% in conference play. His cousin Antonio, a 5'10" jitterbug who was fourth in the WAC last season in assists (4.1 a game), takes over at the point full time now that Greg Harrington has graduated.

The Golden Hurricane, which was often pushed around in the paint last season, must shore up its deficiencies inside. The greatest burden falls on 6'8" senior forward Kevin Johnson, the team's leading scorer last season (14.5 points a game) and a preseason favorite for WAC player of the year. Johnson, who was homeschooled from fourth grade until college, improved his perimeter shooting in the off-season, but he will still have to spend the bulk of his time down low.

There might not be many recognizable names among Tulsa's five seniors, but they're winners. "We can't even imagine not being successful," Johnson says. "With the team we have this year, there's no reason we shouldn't be."

Issue date: November 25, 2002

 


 
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