Brandon Brown will be counted on as a tough inside presence on Friday.
Nov. 15, 2001
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Tulane University will open its 2001-2002 men's basketball season Friday evening, hosting next-door-neighbor Loyola at Fogelman Arena at 8 p.m. The game follows the Tulane women's basketball season opener against High Point.
In addition, it will be the first official game in renovated Fogelman Arena. After nearly 70 years, the arena has had air conditioning installed. In addition, a full paint job and a refurbished floor make Fogelman a perfect home for the Green Wave.
Loyola enters the game with a 3-1 record, being led by sharp-shooting guard Mack Doby, who averages 18.5 points per game.
Tulane head coach Shawn Finney, who relied on just seven scholarship players last season, will have the full complement of 13 scholarship athletes, along with a trio of walk-ons, this season.
"The team is excited about its first regular season game," Finney said. "We are looking forward to seeing how we will respond in real-game situations. The team is coming together and starting to find an identity for itself."
Leading the way Friday night will be juniors Brandon Spann (New Orleans, La.) and Brandon Brown (Houma, La.). The top returning scorer on the team, Spann averaged 15.9 points, while pacing the team in three-pointers, assists and steals. Brown, a 6-8, 230-pound post player, will be expected to be a major presence in the paint, both offensively and defensively. Brown tallied 11.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season and is one of the hardest working players in Conference USA. Another starter returning from last year is sophomore swingman Wayne Tinsley (Fontana, Calif.). Tinsley proved to be one of the better freshmen in school history and, with a year of experience, hopes to improve on his stats of 7.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Possibly the biggest key for this year's Wave will be a pair of redshirted players from last season: juniors Watairi Marsh (Chicago, Ill.) and Nick Sinville (Shreveport, La.). Both are expected to fill starting roles this year. Marsh was a two-year starter before redshirting last year for academic reasons, while Sinville sat out 1999-2000 after transferring from Minnesota.
While the returning starters are key, Finney's biggest asset may be two players who redshirted last season. Junior Waitari Marsh (Chicago, Ill.) was Tulane's starting point guard two years ago, but redshirted last season due to academic reasons. Marsh could return to a starting role this season. In addition, 6-6, 230-pound junior Nick Sinville (Shreveport, La.) is a transfer from Minnesota who sat out last season. While practicing with the Wave during his redshirt season, Sinville showed toughness and skills and is expected to be a major asset to the Wave.
"Wat and Nick will make their debut after a year of sitting out," Finney said on his two junior redshirts. "They bring experience to this program, Nick from a strong Big Ten school and Wat being a two-year starter here in Conference USA. They will give us solid play in the front and backcourts.
Tulane will be without the services of senior Linton Johnson (Chicago, Ill.), who has been suspended for violation of athletic department policies.
The Green Wave had a successful exhibition slate, defeating VASDA, 98-87, on Nov. 1 and topping Global Sports, 97-79, last Thursday.
Following Friday's opening game, Tulane will host Centenary on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Norfolk State next Saturday at 2 p.m.