The Tulane men’s basketball team is about to find out whether its torrid shooting travels well.
The Green Wave (2-0), which shot better than 50 percent in exhibition wins against LSU and Loyola and in both of its regular-season games at Devlin Fieldhouse, faces Colorado State (2-0) at 1 p.m. Friday and Fordham (1-1) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the Jamaica Classic at Montego Bay.
It’s early, but Tulane has not looked this good offensively in eons. The Wave hit more than half of its shots twice in 32 games during coach Mike Dunleavy’s college debut season in 2016-17. It shot less than 40 percent in 2015-16 and has not hit 45 percent since 2002-03.
“We felt good,” said junior forward Melvin Frazier, a career 42.5 percent shooter who connected on 10 of 13 as Tulane waxed Southeastern Louisiana 89-66 on Monday night. “Coach said share the ball and get our shots up and execute. That’s all he really wants, and that’s what we do.”
Frazier, an athletic, 6-foot-6 swingman whose forte always has been driving to the rim, sank four of his six 3-point attempts.
“I felt like he was going to be our most improved player this year,” Dunleavy said. “We worked on his shot last year a whole bunch. We changed it up, and it’s paying dividends. He’s a confident shooter right now.”
Frazier is not the only confident guy for a team shooting 54.9 percent. Sophomore point guard Colin Slater, a woeful 34 of 118 from the floor as a freshman, went 3 for 3 in three straight games before finally missing two shots against Southeastern Louisiana.
Vanderbilt transfer Samir Sehic is 8 of 12 from the floor and 12 of 12 on free throws.
Even the players shooting less than 50 percent — Cameron Reynolds (46.2), Ray Ona Embo (47.4) and Jordan Cornish (43.8) — are hitting at a better clip than Tulane has as a team in nine years.
The Wave’s assist total of 21 in a 102-96 opening-night win against LIU Brooklyn matched last season’s high. Its 19 assists against Southeastern Louisiana equaled the second-best total from 2016-17.
“It’s very fun,” said center Blake Paul, whose team-best 70.0 percent shooting dwarfs his 41.9 percent success rate a year ago. “We’re all smiling on the court. A year under Coach’s program, everybody’s getting what he’s trying to instill in us.”
The competition, at least on opening day, will be better in Jamaica.
Colorado State, coached by former Iowa State and Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy, was picked fifth in the Mountain West preseason media poll.
Fordham, tabbed 13th out of 14 teams in the Atlantic 10 by the league’s coaches and media, beat LIU 81-68 three nights after Tulane struggled to put away LIU.
After viewing the Wave up close, Southeastern coach Jay Ladner does not expect a drop-off as Dunleavy’s professional experience soaks into his players.
“They are a lot more comfortable in what they are doing,” Ladner said. “They have a good feel and do a great job of taking advantage of mismatches, which is the NBA mentality.”