Tulane men’s basketball: Top five storylines _lowres

Tulane forward Jernard Jarreau, left, and guard Louis Dabney pose for a selfie photo for a Twitter post during the American Athletic Conference NCAA college basketball media day, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) ORG XMIT: DOA114

1: Finally, a local flavor

Tulane basketball, which has not had much of a local influence on the roster in a long time, will have four starters from the New Orleans area. Leading returning scorer Louis Dabney (Riverside Academy), a senior, will start at shooting guard. Freshman Melvin Frazier (Higgins High) will start at small forward. LSU transfer Malik Morgan (John Curtis) will start at point guard, backed up by freshman Von Julien (Riverside). Washington transfer Jernard Jarreau (McDonogh 35) will start at center, with freshman Blake Paul (Landry-Walker) getting minutes as a backup.

2: Creating a little buzz

Another thing Tulane has not experienced in a long time is preseason buzz. This team has it despite coming off a rough debut in the American Athletic Conference, a huge upgrade from Conference USA. At the very least, the Green Wave should be more entertaining with better athletes than in coach Ed Conroy’s first five years. Frazier has been a dunk machine in practice. Morgan likes to push the pace. Jarreau is a good shot-blocker on a team that had a woeful block total of 62 a year ago. They give fans a reason to come to Devlin Fieldhouse.

3: Where is the 3-point shooting?

It’s a good question. Jay Hook is gone after sinking 154 3-pointers in the past two years, and the Wave does not have a clear-cut replacement. Dabney hit 61 3-pointers last season but is a career 32.6-percent 3-point shooter. Morgan is more of a scorer than a pure shooter. No one else has any track record of perimeter shooting, although Jarreau and fellow post player Dylan Osetkowski won’t hesitate to take 3s if they are unguarded. It’s hard to win without at least the threat of the 3-point shot, so Dabney needs to come up big from outside.

4: Picking up the pace?

The plodding teams Conroy has had may be a thing of the past. With the shot clock being reduced to 30 seconds from 35, the Wave wants to run more than ever, but that transition is a work in progress. The freshmen have to become comfortable in the system, and their fitness level will be tested too. A faster pace leads to tired players and more mental mistakes. With guards Cameron Reynolds and Kajon Mack sidelined by injuries to start the year, Tulane may not have enough depth in the backcourt to play up tempo.

5: Is the Wave ready to surprise the AAC?

The league’s coaches don’t think so, having picked Tulane last out of 11 teams. The Wave could not figure out a way to put the ball in the basket a year ago, once going 11 straight games without scoring more than 60. The defense in the AAC was a dramatic step up from what Tulane faced in the past. With more options on offense, the Wave has a better shot now, but we won’t know the answer until the middle of December when a soft nonconference schedule picks up dramatically with games at North Carolina and Mississippi State.

— Guerry Smith

ROSTER

No., Name, Pos, Ht., Wt., Cl, Hometown

O , Louis Dabney, G, 6-3, 210, Sr., New Orleans

2 , Taron Oliver, F, 6-9, 310, Fr., Oxen Hill, Md.

3 , Kajon Mack, G, 6-3, 185, Jr., Los Angeles

4 , Riley Conroy, G, 5-11, 175, RFr., New Orleans

5 , Cameron Reynolds, G, 6-7, 215, So., Pearland, Texas

10 , Von Julien, G, 6-1, 160, Fr., Reserve

11 , Kain Harris, G, 6-4, 210, Fr., Chicago

13 , Malik Morgan, G, 6-4, 205, Jr., River Ridge

15 , Ryan Smith, C, 6-11, 250, Jr., Wildomar, Calif.

21 , Dylan Osetkowski, F, 6-8, 255, So., San Diego

22 , Jernard Jarreau, F, 6-10, 235, Gr., New Orleans

23 , Blake Paul, F, 6-9, 230, Fr., New Orleans

35 , Melvin Frazier, G, 6-5, 200, Fr., Avondale

Coach: Ed Conroy (80-81 at Tulane, fifth season; 170-214, 13th season overall)

2014-15 record: 15-16, 6-12 AAC (seventh)

Postseason: None

SCHEDULE

November

13, Alabama A&M, 8 p.m.

16, Drake, 7 p.m.

19, at Southern, 7 p.m.

Music City Challenge, Nashville

22, Appalachian State (at TULANE), 3:30 p.m.

26, Mercer, 6 p.m.

28, Stephen F. Austin, 7:30 p.m.

29, Liberty, 1 p.m.

December

2, UNO, 7 p.m.

5, Georgia Tech, 4 p.m.

14, Prairie View, 7 p.m.

16, at North Carolina, 6 p.m.

19, at Mississippi State, 3 p.m.

22, Southern Miss, 6 p.m.

29, at Memphis*, 11 a.m.

January

2, UConn*, 6:30 p.m.

5, at Houston*, 8 p.m.

10, Tulsa*, noon

12, at South Florida*, 6 p.m.

17, Southern Methodist*, 1 p.m.

19, at UConn*, 6 p.m.

24, at Cincinnati*, 11 a.m.

27, South Florida*, 7 p.m.

30, at Tulsa*, 5 p.m.

February

4, Central Florida*, 7 p.m.

10, at East Carolina*, 5:15 p.m.

13, Memphis*, 1 p.m.

17, Houston*, 8:30 p.m.

24, East Carolina*, 7 p.m.

28, at Southern Methodist*, 2 p.m.

March

2, at Central Florida*, 6 p.m.

6, Temple*, 1 p.m.

AAC tournament

10-16, in Orlando, Fla.

* — American Athletic Conference games