April 12, 2008
One year ago, Tulane took its first step toward re-establishing a program that made eight appearances in postseason play from 1999-2000 by posting a 17-win season. That win total marked the program's first winning season in four years and just the second over a span of seven years.
Not to be detoured, the Green Wave followed up the 2006-07 campaign with a repeat performance. Tulane notched 17 victories to record the school's first stretch of back-to-back winning seasons in 11 years, and the Wave once again advanced in the Conference USA Tournament.
Season highlights included a 10-4 non-conference record with a 3-0 mark against Southeastern Conference teams, 10 victories inside the city of New Orleans, including an impressive victory over in-state rival LSU, and TU improved to 3-0 under third-year head coach Dave Dickerson in Conference USA Tournament opening round games.
"I am excited about the future of Tulane basketball," Dickerson said. "We've gone through some of the most turbulent times with Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, but won 34 games the last two seasons. We're happy with the direction of the program and I believe we took a big step this past season, which was the first we've had since I have been here without distractions.
"We defeated three teams from the SEC and one from the Big East and those victories were a big step for us, and we are looking forward to accomplishing even more in the near future."
"I am very proud of David Gomez. He was arguably one of the top 7-10 players in our league. He led is in many categories and put together one of the best seasons in school history," Dickerson said.
The senior trio of Gomez, Donnavan Stith and Matt Wheaton helped Tulane to 56 victories during their careers which included a coaching change and Hurricane Katrina, and remarkably each of the seniors each left their mark in the Tulane career record book. All three seniors are on course to graduate from Tulane.
One constant for Tulane during Dickerson's tenure has been its success in opening round games of the Conference USA Tournament. This past season, the Green Wave moved to 3-0 under Dickerson when it dispatched Marshall in the first round of the 2008 Conference USA Men's Basketball Tournament. TU held Marshall scoreless over the final 6:20 and scored the final 11 points of the contest to defeat the Thundering Herd, 48-47.
On the national scene, Tulane was once again one of the top shot blocking teams in the country this season with 171, which ranked No. 19 in the nation with 5.3 per game. Over the last two years, TU has been tough in the paint, rejecting a combined 359 of its opponents' field goal attempts, or 5.8 per outing.
After not attempting a free throw in the first half of its last game at Syracuse, Tulane drained all 15 attempts in the second half and finished 15-of-15 from the charity stripe, which marked the first time TU had finished perfect from the free-throw line since Jan. 7, 1998, when the Wave connected on all 10 attempts against Saint Louis.
Despite losing its first game of the month of December on the road at Syracuse and later to Saint Mary's, (both of whom have appeared in the national rankings this year) Tulane put together a "December to Remember" by rolling to a 6-2 mark. The Wave put together its most wins during the final month of the year since the 1999-2000 season when TU chalked up a perfect 6-0 record.
The Green Wave was 3-0 against teams from the SEC this season with wins over Auburn, Georgia and LSU. Conference USA sported a combined record of 6-5 against the SEC in 2007-08 and TU boasted three of the wins. The Green Wave finished with a perfect record against the SEC for the first time since the 1943-44 campaign when TU was a league member and captured the conference title with a 4-0 record.
Junior Robinson Louisme hit 60.2 percent of his field goal attempts (127-211) this season, which led all Conference USA players in field goal percentage and was the fourth-best single season effort in school history. Louisme hit his first 13 field goal attempts of the year before suffering his first miss in the fourth game, and he shot 60 percent or better from the field in 19 of 32 games.
Kevin Sims accomplished a feat not seen at Tulane in over 10 years. The sophomore guard put together back-to-back seasons with 100+ assists with 102 as a freshman and 120 this season, which is good enough to rank 10th on Tulane's single season charts. Sims is the first player to record consecutive 100+ assists seasons since Jerald Honeycutt with 120 in 1995-96, and 131 in 1996-97.
When Sims wasn't dishing the ball to his teammates he was taking it away from the opposition. Sims' 44 steals was not only the best by a Tulane player this season, but ranked eighth among C-USA players. Sims' six steals at Syracuse tied for the best single game effort in the league in 2007-08.
"Kevin turned out to be as good as advertised. He followed up a productive freshman year with an MVP year this season. He played the most minutes, was the second leading scorer and was the engine that ran the program. I'm certainly looking forward to having him back next year," Dickerson said.
Gomez and Stith played in 118 career games, which put them in a tie for sixth place on the school's top 10 list. Gomez also started 100 games which ranks fifth all-time at Tulane.
Looking ahead to the 2008-09 campaign, the Green Wave returns eight letterwinners, including three starters. Sims, who averaged 12.2 points and 3.8 assists per game, is the team's top returning scorer and assists leader, and also led the team in three-pointers (46), while Louisme, who averaged 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds, is the Wave's top returning rebounding leader.
Tulane's biggest questions will be filling the void left by Gomez, who led the team in scoring (14.4), rebounds (6.2), blocks (51), field goals (162), and free throws (129), and with the loss of its three seniors, TU must replace 41 percent of its scoring and rebounding corps.
"As we look to next season, we need to address several areas, including perimeter scoring, replacing the inside scoring threat we had in Dave (Gomez) and how our returning players will step up. Last year, we had one of the youngest back courts in the conference, and we'll need Eric (Vianney), Kris (Richard) and Johnny (Mayhane) to be consistent scorers next season," Dickerson said.
Although Tulane losses two outstanding players in its frontcourt in Gomez and Stith, the Wave will look to receive an immediate impact from both sophomore-transfer David Booker and redshirt freshman Jon Andersen.
"Robinson Louisme was a bright spot for us last year and we'll need him to be both consistent and dominant inside the paint next season. I would like to see more productivity from Asim (McQueen), and we'll need Jon (Andersen) and Dave (Booker) to each give us an inside scoring presence in their first year.
"I think Daniel Puckett will be one of the biggest question marks. He has shown signs of becoming a great player, but his health has slowed him down. He has the ability to become a multi-dimensional player for us as an inside/outside scoring threat," Dickerson said.
The Green Wave has already bolstered its backcourt with the addition of a pair of freshman signees from the state of Texas. Kendall Timmons is a 6'5" guard from Southwest High School in Fort Worth, while Trent Rogers is a 6'3" combination guard from Houston's Strake Jesuit High School. Timmons, the Texas 4A Player of the Year, averaged 18.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.9 steals led his team to the state title game, while Rogers, one of the top players in the Houston area, averaged 12.6 points per outing and guided his team to a district championship.
"Trent is a perimeter scorer, while Kendall is a scorer who is effective from both the perimeter and inside. Both players will bring energy to our program with their athleticism. Overall, look for us to have a different style of Tulane basketball in 2008-09 that will be very fan friendly," Dickerson said.