Add good defense to the list of attributes for the Tulane men’s basketball team during its eye-opening start.
The Green Wave (4-0), which hit at least half of its shots in its first three games, held Colorado State and Fordham below 40 percent shooting while winning twice at the Jamaica Classic in Montego Bay over the weekend. With three games left in November, the Wave has an excellent chance to surpass its 2006-17 total of six victories before the end of the month.
Next is a home game against Miami (Ohio) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and second-year coach Mike Dunleavy wants to see more of the same effort.
“If we defend, we rebound and we make free throws, we are going to be in every game and give ourselves a chance to win,” Dunleavy said after a sloppy 63-55 win against Fordham on Sunday that was nowhere near as pretty as the Wave’s first three. “We learned a lot about our team and did some really good things at the defensive end. We’re off to a 4-0 start, and that’s what we hoped to accomplish.”
With an assist from ice-cold Colorado State, the Wave limited the Rams to 2 points in the first 12 minutes of an 80-53 laugher on Friday afternoon. The Rams never heated up, finishing 22 of 62 (35.5 percent) overall and 4 of 21 from 3-point range while the length of forwards, Cameron Reynolds and point guard Ray Ona Embo bothered them.
The next set of Rams did not fare much better offensively, with Fordham shooting 22 of 57 overall and 8 of 31 from behind the arc. Tulane trailed 29-27 at the half because it hit only 33 percent and failed to put the Rams away due to a season-high 22 turnovers, including six from Reynolds.
Still, the Wave led for the final 18:28 and by at least 6 for the last 12 minutes, sinking 10 of 15 shots after the break and making 19 of 24 free throws. It outrebounded Fordham 41-23.
With its reputation rising quickly — Tulane is up more than 60 spots to 138 in the Kenpom.com ratings since the start of the season — Dunleavy asked for more support in New Orleans.
The attendance for the first two home games was 1,032 against LIU-Brooklyn and 1,316 against Southeastern Louisiana.
“We need our fans to come out and fill our building for us,” Dunleavy said. “We have a good group. We could use little momentum builders when we go through some rough patches. We’re trying to figure out a formula to make (fan turnout) happen.”
Frazier on fire
When Dunleavy said a week ago he had expected Frazier to improve more than anyone else on the roster from last year, he may not have been envisioning this huge an outburst.
Frazier, a Higgins High School graduate and the Jamaica Classic MVP, became the first Tulane player named American Athletic Conference Player of the Week since the Wave joined the league in 2014-15. In his past three games, he averaged 23.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals, hitting 26 of 32 shots (81.3 percent) and 9 of 13 3-pointers.
This, from a guy who could not quite harness his prodigious athletic ability as a freshman and sophomore. He hit fewer than 45 percent of his shots, connected on fewer than 30 percent from 3-point range and had 110 turnovers to 72 assists.
Through four games this year, he has 13 assists and five turnovers.
After grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds and scoring 25 against Southeastern for his first double-double, he pulled down 14 against Fordham to go along with 23 points.