Nov. 17, 2000
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Tulane University will tip off its 2000-2001 men's basketball season on Friday, hosting Nicholls State at 8 p.m. at Fogelman Arena. It is the head-coaching debut of Shawn Finney, who arrives at Tulane after 15 years as an assistant coach, including the last three at Kentucky.
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Tulane will be led by captain Ledaryl Billingsley, the lone senior on the roster. Billingsley, a 6-8, 250-pound power player, averaged nearly 10 points per game last season in under 20 minutes of action a night. With the bulked up minutes, the big man hopes to compile impressive numbers this season. Billingsley torched Vasda for 18 points and 16 rebounds in an exhibition game last Saturday.
Junior Linton Johnson will serve as the team's associate captain. Finney expects him to be the most improved player on the team this year. Johnson averaged 15.5 points and eight rebounds in the two exhibition games.
Another key returnee is sophomore guard Brandon Spann, who will handle point duties this year. A deadly shooter, Spann averaged 17.5 points and 8.0 assists in the two preseason contests.
"We are excited about our first opportunity to play a game," Finney said. "We know Nicholls State will come in here with great enthusiasm. They will be looking to press and create a scramble game which will make it a very up-tempo and exciting night."
The Colonels from Nicholls State posted an 11-17 record last year, however, nine letterwinners return from that youthful group, making Nicholls a potential contender in the Southland Conference. Texas-San Antonio is the team picked to win the conference. Senior Arthur Haralson leads the Colonels, he scored 15.4 points per game last year. Also returning from last year is Marlon Green, a 6-5 senior who tallied 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game a year ago. Head coach Rickey Broussard begins his 11th season at Nicholls, he has compiled a 134-144 record in that time. The Colonels defeated Kraitene Marijampole, 67-64, on Sunday night, despite shooting just 32 percent from the floor. Sean Hughley led the way with 15 points, while Clifton Jones added 14.
The Green Wave is back in action on Monday, hosting Virginia Commonwealth at 7 p.m. at Fogelman Arena.