#115 Tulsa Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Tulsa Golden Hurricane
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #115
Conference Rank: #6 American
Everything came together very nicely for Tulsa last year. The Golden Hurricanes returned everybody from the year before and turned that into another 20 win season and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The team lost to Michigan in the First Four, but the program is on solid ground. With that said, Tulsa has a lot of rebuilding to do this year. Seven of their eight players who averaged double digit minutes are gone. Tulsa will be hoping for more of a reloading season than a rebuilding season.
2015-16 Record: 20-12, 12-6
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Frank Haith
Coach Record: 43-23 at Tulsa, 248-152 overall
Who’s Out:
The simple answer is nearly everybody. James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison were the main scorers for Tulsa. Woodard averaged 15.4 points and Harrison added 15.1. Rashad Smith, Brandon Swannegan and D’Andrew Wright also started at least a dozen games in 2015-2016. Marquel Curtis was a decent scorer off of the bench during his senior season and Rashad Ray was a solid backup point guard. Even walk-on Nick Wood is out of eligibility.
Who’s In:
With so much lost, Coach Haith needs a lot of help from his large group of newcomers. The frontcourt needs the most help and they should be able to get it from transfers Eugene Artison and Junior Etou and incoming freshmen Martins Igbanu and Will Magnay. Artison, a 6-9 forward, played one season at the College of Southern Idaho where he averaged 14.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. Artison is a decent shooter and can get up and down the floor in a hurry. He will be competing for a starting job sooner or later. Etou comes to Tulsa from Rutgers where he averaged 7.4 points and 6.6 rebounds two years ago. A starter in the Big Ten, Etou has the experience to step right into a starting job. Travis Atson and walk-on Alex Foree will add depth at small forward. Atson has the potential to be an athletic wing who can knock down some jump shots. The newcomers in the backcourt are led by junior college transfers Jaleel Wheeler and Cory Henderson. Wheeler is a proven scorer at the junior college level and Henderson spent one season at Wichita State before averaging 14.8 points per game at Blinn College. Those two should battle it out for a starting job. Cory Haith joins incoming freshmen Joseph Battle and Lawson Kortia in the backcourt. Battle is a talented combo guard who should earn minutes as a freshman.
Who to Watch:
Battle will have to compete with Sterling Taplin for minutes at the point. Taplin averaged just 9.8 minutes per game as a freshman, but he is a very good shooter and the type of point guard Coach Frank Haith likes to utilize. The most proven returning player by far is Pat Birt. He will have to emerge as a leader on the floor after averaging 12.0 points and knocking down 36.6 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. With Birt, Tulsa knows they have a shooter they can depend on game in and game out. TK Edogi sat out last season, but the expectations are high that he will make a big stride during his sophomore season. He could also turn into the shot blocking threat this this team desperately needs.
Final Projection:
This will be a very interesting season for Tulsa. Obviously there are a ton of holes to fill, but Coach Haith appears to have done a good job filling them. There is a nice mix of very talented freshmen and experienced transfers joining Birt, Taplin and Edogi. Consistency may be an issue with so many new faces and a return trip to the NCAA Tournament seems unlikely, but this is a team that has the potential to pull off some upsets along the way and be very, very dangerous by March.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Sterling Taplin, Sophomore, Guard, 2.6 points per game
Jaleel Wheeler, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Pat Birt, Senior, Guard, 12.0 points per game
TK Edogi, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Junior Etou, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.6 (157th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 69.6 (113, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (160, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (77, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (189, 6) 
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.6 (266, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.6 (258, 10)
Rebound Margin: -1.9 (249, 10)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (147, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.8 (29, 3)