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Tulane Women's Basketball 2013-14 Season In Review

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi and the Green Wave won 20 games and earned a spot in the postseason for the fifth consecutive season in 2013-14.
TULANEGREENWAVE.COM
Junior wing Adesuwa Ebomwonyi and the Green Wave won 20 games and earned a spot in the postseason for the fifth consecutive season in 2013-14.
TULANEGREENWAVE.COM

May 9, 2014

Video Interview With Coach Stockton

NEW ORLEANS - When the final horn sounded on Tulane's 2013-14 women's basketball season, three significant chapters were simultaneously scribed into the Green Wave's annals.

First, the Green Wave closed out an era as a member of Conference USA and walked away as one of the most successful programs in the league's history. Secondly, a laundry list of success under head coach Lisa Stockton was extended as the Wave enjoyed another stellar campaign in their 20th season under her tutelage. And finally, a new chapter was opened as the team looks ahead to participating in the American Athletic Conference next season.

While the answer to "how will Tulane fare?" was answered with another outstanding effort on the hardwood, the questions at the beginning of the season was "who is going to lead the Green Wave?" Coming off a season saw Tulane post 20-plus wins and make the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, the 2013-14 team had to find a way to replace four graduated seniors - Olivia Grayson, Janique Kautsky, Brittany McDonald and Tyria Snow - as well as two would-be redshirt-juniors in Whitney Bibbins and Ashley Westby, who had their careers cut short due to injury.

The replacement came in a bevy of familiar faces and a pair of new ones. Spearheading the charge were third-year players Danielle Blagg, Tiffany Dale, Adesuwa Ebomwonyi and Jamie Kaplan. Also adding to the effort were senior Brooke Blankenship, redshirt-junior Katye Magee, junior transfer Brook LaFloe, sophomores Chinwe Duru and Tierra Jones, redshirt-freshman Morgan Rogers and the rookie duo of Courtnie Latham and Leslie Vorpahl. When the dust finally settled, Tulane completed the season 20-11, finished fourth in C-USA with an 11-5 league record and advanced to the WNIT.

 

 

"I think there were a lot of things to be proud of during this year," Stockton said. "Losing what we did going into this year, trying to know who's going to replace the players we lost, I think a lot fell on our junior class and a lot of good things came out of that. All four of them had very good years

"Danielle and Jamie Kaplan had breakout years. Adesuwa came on and really did some very special things, and obviously, Tiffany Dale has been a big part of what we've been able to accomplish these past three years. The emergence of our freshmen and how well they've played was really special. We were really happy with what people were able to give us and how they developed. When you're building a nucleus here, and we will return a large majority of this team, I think it gives us a lot to build on."

As a team, the Green Wave averaged 68.6 points, 41.1 rebounds, 16.2 assists, 8.2 steals and 4.2 blocks per game. Blagg led a balanced Tulane offense with 12.0 points per game while Dale and Kaplan followed closely with respective scoring averages of 11.9 and 11.6. Dale paced the squad with 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, and Kaplan led the Green Wave with 6.7 assists per contest. Ebomwonyi, meanwhile, headlined the defense with 1.5 steals per outing.

Tulane connected at a .416 clip from the field, hitting 757-of-1818 shots from the floor, and 152-of-468 tries from beyond the 3-point arc (.325), while allowing opponents to shoot .385 overall (708-of-1838) and .297 from 3-point land (170-of-573). Green Wave foes averaged 63.8 points, 37.2 rebounds, 13.5 assists, 8.1 steals and 3.0 blocks per game in 2013-14.

The Wave opened the season with four consecutive wins, including wins of 25-plus points in each of the first three contests to post the first time in school history the team won as many games by more than 25 points. After dropping three non-conference games to opponents that participated in the 2014 postseason, Tulane rattled off five straight wins to improve to 9-3. One loss later, the Wave opened their C-USA slate with back-to-back road victories and went on to win nine of their next 12 games.

Tulane's 65-61 home win over Tulsa on Feb. 26 was a big one for the Green Wave as the team reached the 20-win plateau, and the team's overall body of work throughout the campaign earned the program a trip to the 2014 WNIT.

The 20-win season was the 13th time the team posted 20-plus wins - all of which have come under Stockton's direction. In addition, the trip to the WNIT was team's 16th overall postseason bid - 15 of which have been under Stockton's watch - and the fifth straight season the team played beyond the conference tournament.

"I think a 20-win season is your goal, and it's great to have five in a row," Stockton said. "The expectations for our team are that we expect them to go out and there win 20 games, to go out there and perform at high level. Going into this year, with our non-conference schedule being as high as it was, I wasn't sure how easy that would be for us but we did a nice job with that."

Along the way, four Green Wave student-athletes picked up individual honors, including Kaplan who claimed honorable-mention All-America recognition from the Associated Press after setting a Tulane single-season record with 209 assists.

In addition, Kaplan was named second-team All C-USA and All-Louisiana for her accomplishments on the court while claiming spots on the Capital One Academic All-District VI and C-USA All-Academic Team for her effort in the classroom. Blagg joined Kaplan on the all-conference and all-state team, earning second-team All C-USA and third-team All-Louisiana recognition, Dale was tabbed honorable-mention all-state, and Vorpahl garnered C-USA All-Freshman Team honors.

"Being named All-American is a tremendous and well-deserved honor for Jamie," Stockton said. "She played a lot of minutes for us during her first two seasons, but I felt that this year was really special. Her breaking the school's assist record, which was an incredible record that I thought would be tough to break, really says a lot about what she brought this year. Her ability to not turn the ball over and break presses really changed the way teams played us, and I'm glad that people outside of our program recognize her value.

"Tiffany Dale had a very good year for us. Danielle has certainly been a player for us that we've counted on over her years here. I think other teams have to come out and play Tulane and figure out how to control Danielle and how to keep her in check. Leslie Vorpahl is someone that we looked at as a point guard, but played her a lot at the one and the two. I was very impressed with her maturity and her savvy."

Tulane will officially become a member of The American on July 1, 2014, and that will mark the start of a new era of Green Wave athletics. The Wave will join previous C-USA members Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Tulsa and UCF as well as Connecticut and Temple.

A charter member of C-USA for the start of the 1995-96 season, the Green Wave posted a league-best 397 wins, including a 181-111 mark in conference play. In addition, the Green Wave won five regular-season conference titles and four tournament championships - both high-water marks in C-USA history.

"I look back on our time in Conference USA with great memories and what we were able to accomplish there," Stockton said. "Because of Conference USA, we were able to build a Top 25 program. You look at championships and cutting down nets, and you look back at all the different players that played here and were successful in Conference USA, but also played in the WNBA. It really enabled our program to grow, to get national recognition that we needed at that time.

"Joining The American is definitely a change for us, but athletics has changed so much, and we are excited to go to a new league that has a lot of former members of Conference USA. All but two of those teams were Conference USA members who were a part of the league when it was at its height, and I look forward to starting again."

So while Tulane's chapter on C-USA came to an end and another opens with the joining of a new league, there is yet one more tale to be completed for the upcoming campaign as the rising senior class of Blagg, Dale, Ebomwonyi and Kaplan will look to leave a lasting impression on the Green Wave fan base.

Over the previous three years, the quartet has helped Tulane post an overall record of 67-31 (.684) and three consecutive trips to the postseason. The foursome has seen its contribution to the program increase each season and have now accounted for 47.1 percent of the team's scoring total (3022-of-6419 points), 45.4 percent of the team's blocked shots (199-of-438 swats), 44.8 percent of the team's assists (691-of-1541 dimes), 42.5 percent of the team's rebounds (1705-of-4014 boards) and 40.7 percent of the team's steals (358-of-879 thefts) since the start of the 2011-12 campaign.

And while Stockton has been more than happy with the quartet's contributions, she was quick to issue a challenge of sorts for her standouts as they head into their final collegiate season.

"I think that the junior class has probably made as much of mark here in their careers as any class I've had," Stockton said. "They've been a big part of our rotations and our success. Individually, their resumes are not complete. And it's not going to be complete until they get this program to the NCAA tournament.

"I think they are very competitive, each of them brings so many different things, and they are hungry for it. A new conference is a new challenge, and I think that those four players probably have to lead the way in getting us there and getting us to that level. The competition in this league is definitely tougher, and how we meet that challenge depends on our leadership and how much our players push each other. I do think this group is hungry for doing something they have never done."

The rising seniors, however, are not the only experienced players coming back for the 2014-15 season. The team is expected to return 10 of 12 letterwinners from a year ago, the Green Wave will return 2083-of-2128 points (97.9 percent), 1258-of-1274 rebounds (98.7 percent), 494-of-501 assists (98.6 percent), 247-of-253 steals (97.6 percent) and 129-of-131 blocks (98.5 percent) from the 2013-14 campaign.

In addition, forward Paije Hall is expected to return to form after missing her true freshman season with an Achilles injury while Tulane will welcome the talents of incoming freshmen Kolby Morgan (New Orleans, La./John Curtis Christian HS) and Caylah Cruickshank (Montreal, Quebec/Dawson College).

"We have Paije and her strength in the middle returning from an injury," Stockton added. "I think our needs were addressed with this class. That was our goal going in. They both had great years and I think they are all very excited about coming in here. Kolby was Player of the Year in high school this year and had a super season, and you get the experience of our Canadian player who's played a lot of minutes and probably plays as hard as anybody I've seen play.

"We're excited about adding them to this group, it's going to be tremendously competitive, and I think that's going to be our big goal for the summer, trying to integrate everyone and get the maximum potential out of all of our players."

2013-14 TULANE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HONOR ROLL

Danielle Blagg
Second-Team All-Conference USA
Third-Team All-Louisiana
Louisiana Player of the Week (12/23/13)

Brooke Blankenship
Conference USA Academic Medalist
Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll

Tiffany Dale
Honorable-Mention All-Louisiana
Tulane/DoubleTree Classic All-Tournament Team

Adesuwa Ebomwonyi
Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll

Tierra Jones
Tulane/DoubleTree Classic All-Tournament Team

Jamie Kaplan
Honorable Mention Associated Press All-American
Second-Team All-Conference USA
Second-Team All-Louisiana
First-Team Capital One Academic All-District 6
C-USA Women's Basketball All-Academic Team
Tulane/DoubleTree Classic Most Valuable Player
Conference USA Academic Medalist
Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll

Courtnie Latham
Conference USA Academic Medalist
Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll

Katye Magee
Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll

Leslie Vorpahl
Conference USA All-Freshman Team
C-USA Freshman of the Week (1/13/14)
C-USA Freshman of the Week (11/25/13)
Conference USA Academic Medalist
Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll