KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Tulane’s first basketball seasons in the American Athletic Conference will include visits from both of Connecticut’s national champions.
The Huskies men’s and women’s will be home-and-home opponents for the Green Wave, the league announced Wednesday at its spring meetings. The dates will be set in August or September.
“There’s going to be great anticipation for all of our league games,” Tulane men’s coach Ed Conroy said. “But any team you get a team like UConn coming in, that’s something that gets everybody fired up and looking forward to.”
The visit by the Huskies will be the first by a defending national champion to Tulane since Louisville in 1981.
That game was played in the Superdome. Both Conroy and Athletic Director Rick Dickson said they were unsure if this game would be played in Devlin Arena or be moved to the Smoothie King Center.
“We know we want to do something special with it,” Dickson said. “It just depends on the date.”
Tulane’s other men’s conference games will be against Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, Southern Methodist, Temple and Tulsa. The Wave will also visit all of those schools with the exception of SMU. East Carolina is the other conference road game.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie said he expects to get everyone’s best shot now that the Huskies are national champions.
“We felt that last year, and we weren’t the defending champions,” he said. “Whenever you put that UConn jersey on, it’s a special feeling.
“Tulane’s going to be ready to play, just like everyone else. Our conference is going to be very strong.”
The Wave finished 17-17 last season, losing to Princeton in the first round of the Collegiate Basketball Invitational.
For the Tulane women, it will be the first time to play a defending national champion since 1988, when the Wave visited Louisiana Tech.
The Huskies present a formidable challenge. UConn recently won its second straight national championship and eighth overall, going 34-0.
The Huskies return National Player of the Year Breanna Stewart.
“Any time you’ve got the best team in the country coming to your place, you’ve got to be excited about it,” said Tulane coach Lisa Stockton, who will be entering her 21st season at the school. “We’ve been recruiting players on the promise that they will be competing against the highest level of competition, and UConn is certainly that. They’re a program that just gets better every year. What we really need is for our fans to help us create a great atmosphere.”
That’s something UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, happens virtually everywhere his team plays.
“Everybody’s looking to create a highlight film from their game against us,” he said. “Back in 1996, after we won our first championship, Syracuse beat us.
“When we came back the next season, they had the ball and the net in the trophy case and that was for a regular-season game. It just amazes me the reaction that we get.”
And while this may be UConn’s first time to play at Tulane, it’s not the Huskies first time in New Orleans.
They were in the Women’s Final Four in 1991, 2003 and 2013, winning it all a year ago.
“New Orleans is one of my favorite cities,” Auriemma said, “and Lisa has done an outstanding job at Tulane.
“We’re looking forward to that game and to help build the AAC into a premier conference.”
Tulane finished 20-11 last season, losing to Mississippi State in the first round of the WNIT.
The rest of the women’s conference schedule was not released, but like the men, the Tulane women will play seven of the other nine schools in the league home and home, while only visiting one and one hosting another. The women’s schedule is not identical to the men’s.
Fitts not here
Incoming Tulane President Michael Fitts is not attending the meetings, which run through Friday.
Dickson said Fitts, the dean of the law school at the University of Pennsylvania who takes over his duties at Tulane on July 1 the same day the Wave officially joins the AAC, had other commitments.
Outgoing president Scott Cowen will represent Tulane on Thursday and Friday.
Munchie on the mend
Former Karr High standout Munchie Legaux, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility at Cincinnati after the senior quarterback suffered a serious leg injury early last season, hopefully will be ready to play by the season opener Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville said Wednesday.
“It was the worst I’ve ever seen,” Tuberville said. “He’s throwing and jogging a little bit.
“He’s going to be pushing it to make it by the first of the year, but I think he’ll make it.”
Legaux has played in 31 games for Cincinnati, throwing for 2,847 yards and 20 touchdowns while also rushing for 627 yards and seven more TDs.
The Bearcats have four other scholarship quarterbacks, including one-time LSU commitment Gunner Kiel. But Tuberville said Legaux is definitely in his plans.
“He was starting before he was hurt,” Tuberville said. “Like I told him, ‘It’s up to you, man.’ ”