Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana, is an opponent that is as interesting to me as any on the Purdue schedule. Like previous foe TCU, Tulane University has a nickname and a mascot that I find mesmerizing: the Green Wave and Riptide, the Pelican. I can understand the pelican mascot, with Louisiana being the Pelican State, but it seems odd to have a bird representing a body of water. Of course, if Alabama can have the Crimson Tide and an elephant, respectively...
The story of how the Green Wave became the nickname for all Tulane athletic teams is pretty simple. The official school colors were olive and blue and the teams were known as the Olive and Blue until 1919. Eventually, one of the student newspapers on campus called the teams the Greenbacks. Not to be outdone, another newspaper began use of the term Green Wave and published a song with that very title. The name caught on and has been the nickname for all Tulane University athletic teams since.
The story goes beyond that, however, as the Tulane University A.D. decided in 1963 that the athletic teams needed "a more virile symbol" than a mischievious little boy, first illustrated in 1945. After consulting with a company in California that created the "Boilermaker" look for Purdue, a design of "a determined looking Green Wave" was designed. Virility, it seems, depends upon whether the mascot is mischievous or determined, I suppose. There's more to the story, still, with the introduction of Riptide the pelican as the official mascot, but you can learn more about the entire story (including the Purdue connection) at the following address:
As if taking a cue from the fight song, "Roll on Green Wave," the Tulane women's basketball team has definitely been on a roll of late, winning its last 5 consecutive games including a 19-point victory over previous Purdue opponent Boston College. At 8-2 the Green Wave have played a decent schedule with a quality loss to Louisiana Tech at home and victories over Missouri Valley Conference power Drake and Big East (and nationally ranked) Boston College. The strong start shouldn't be a surprise, however, as four of Tulane's five starters are repeating their roles from last year's team: junior guards Delacey Joseph and Kelly Nadeau and senior frontcourt players Teana McKiver and Gwen Slaughter. Add a fifth starter in Arkansas-Little Rock transfer Muci Haris and you've got a squad that is comfortable with each other and should know one another's tendencies.
Tulane's squad, however, is more than its five seasoned starters; through 9 games, no player averaged more than 28 minutes per game and eight appeared in every game and got at least 13 minutes of playing time on average. Britt Themann and Lakethia Hampton provide depth, and 6.7 ppg and 5.9 ppg respectively. Tiffany Wilson grabs almost 3 rebounds per game off the bench. Along with depth, the Green Wave can count on its outside shooting as a strength as the team currently hits 3 pointers at more than a 40% clip. Rebounding and field goal defense also are strengths on this team, as it outrebounds opponents by more than 5 per game and holds teams to less than 36% shooting from the floor and 22% from 3-point range. Little surprise at these last two statistics as the Green Wave boast 3 starters taller than 6'2": guard Joseph, forward Slaughter, and center McKiver. With these three at least matching opponents in height, Tulane averages more than 5 blocks per game and holds opponents down to 55 points per game (again, all stats through 9 games). Slaughter averages almost 10 rebounds per game, while the five starters average between 7.4 and 13.2 points per game, led by McKiver.
For all that's going good for Tulane right now, however, there are some problems, too: the Green Wave averages more than 22 turnovers per game and shoot 63.2% from the free throw line on the season. Haris, Joseph, and Nadeau are all accomplished shooters from both the 3-point line and the FT line, but McKiver and Slaughter have taken the lion's share of free throws for the Green Wave and both are hitting around 60% of their shots. Still, a team with this depth, rebounding ability, and defensive skills is going to wear down opponents regardless of how many free throws they make. The inside-outside game is impressive and if the turnovers can be diminished to allow for more opportunity on the offensive end, Tulane may continue its rise in the national rankings and be one of the favorites in Conference USA. Learn more about Tulane women's basketball team at the following address:
Teana McKiver, a 6'3" senior from Beulaville, North Carolina, is one of the most decorated players on this year's Tulane squad. She was named C-USA's Sixth Player of the Year her sophomore year after transferring from East Carolina; 2nd team all C-USA as a junior despite ranking third in the nation in FG% and ranking in the conference's top 10 in FG%, blocks, rebounding, and scoring; a preseason All-American status by Street & Smith magazine; and called one of the most underrated players in the nation by womenscollegehoops.com. Teana may also receive interest from the WNBA for her abilities. Again, it seems as if Curry has scheduled another opponent who will challenge Mary Jo in the paint: McKiver's got solid defensive skills and her shooting percentage proves that she's an efficient scorer. A solid game from Mary Jo to follow up her play against Western Michigan will be needed as Tulane looks for the upset in Mackey on Thursday night. Read more about Teana McKiver at the following addresses:
http://www.womenscollegehoops.com/archive/2002/aaunderrated02.htm (see 2nd team)
Make no mistake, the Tulane Green Wave are on a roll. While the schedule hasn't been the most difficult in the nation, playing solid squads like Drake, Louisiana Tech, and Boston College is going to prepare this team for C-USA and postseason play. While Tulane hasn't played a road game at a venue like Mackey (the Louisiana Tech game was held in New Orleans Arena instead of Fogelman Arena), a large, vocal crowd shouldn't put too much stress on a team with this much experience.
Tulane will also benefit knowing that it played the Boilermakers tough last year in Louisiana, coming up 12 points short in a game the Green Wave led at halftime. Laura Meadows and Shereka Wright came up big to counterract McKiver's and Slaughter's combined 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 blocks. The addition of Haris gives Tulane an outside threat it didn't have in last year's game, though, and the squad's confidence has to be rising with its current win streak. The tall, defensive-minded squad may give Purdue fits in Mackey Arena on Thursday especially if Haris turns hot, McKiver controls the low post, and the Tulane bench significantly outproduces Purdue's. The Boilermakers should not look past this C-USA team as a showdown with Notre Dame on national television looms in the future: 9-1 looks nice right now, but 9-3 isn't very far-fetched.
Keys to the game: forcing Tulane into its average of 22 turnovers a game and capitalizing on the offensive end; the bench providing not only rest for the starters but also productivity; Mary Jo v. Teana and Gwen in the paint.