POSTED ON APRIL 11, 2012:
Happy Days Are Here Again
The hiring of Danny Manning has the Univ. of Tulsa excited
The University of Tulsa has had the cream of the crop when it comes to basketball coaches. Bill Self, Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith, Buzz Peterson, Billy Gillispie, Tom Izzo and Flip Saunders have all found their way to the Reynolds Center to make their mark on the college basketball landscape. Tulsa has been successful in hiring great coaches, but they haven't succeeded in retaining them. However, with the hiring of former University of Kansas assistant basketball coach, Danny Manning, the excitement for TU basketball has returned to the Reynolds Center.
Manning becomes Tulsa's twenty-ninth head basketball coach, and The University of Tulsa Director of Athletics, Ross Parmley, couldn't be happier with the hiring. "We have found someone who will have a great impact on our men's basketball program, but also have a positive impact on our campus and community," Parmley said.
Manning also couldn't be happier. "This is a great opportunity," he said. "I am excited and looking forward to making the most of it. We're going to have a good time. We're going to play hard. We're going to play competitive.
"We're going to be respectful young men and humble, but hungry; hungry to get better as young men and as individuals on the team committed to one goal, which is going out and representing TU with the highest integrity we can. At the end of the day we'll stack up the wins and losses, but more importantly we want to make sure when people leave here they're quality young men ready to take the world on and make someone else's life better. That's how we're going to build our program, from the ground up," Manning said.
When it comes to basketball, Manning's resume reads like a basketball almanac. He was the number one pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1988 NBA draft after defeating the Sooners for the national title while playing for Kansas that season. Recently Manning spent nine years on KU's basketball staff, where he was part of one NCAA national title, two NCAA Final Fours, eight Big 12 regular season conference titles and five Big 12 tournament championships. While on the coaching staff, he developed Cole Aldrich and twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, all of whom were selected in the NBA Draft. Manning also had the opportunity to work with All-American Thomas Robinson.
When it comes to his style of play, Manning wants to play up-tempo. "We want to be a team that plays pressure mantoman defense without giving up easy buckets, scores in transition, gets down the court, gets into some type of motion offense where the ball goes from one side of the court to the other, give the defenses a chance to break down, then attack," Manning said.
"We'll incorporate a lot of ball screens and give our ball handlers a chance to get into the paint and create," he said. "The biggest issue for us is on the defensive end; we don't want to give up any easy buckets. ... "The philosophy is if the team can't score it will be hard for them to beat us."
To say Manning has had a very illustrious career as a coach and a player would be an understatement, but when he was being introduced as TU's new head men's basketball coach, those achievements were not the focus. "Going through injuries was something that changed my outlook on the game," Manning said. "I always enjoyed the game of basketball as a player. Going through injuries, I started looking at things a lot differently. I think that's really helped me in terms of coaching, sharing my experiences, mentoring the young men I've had a chance to work with."
Manning also plans to hit the recruiting trail hard and attract players who can be great on and off the court. "We have to make sure we recruit young men that bring something to the university as well as the basketball court -- someone that is serious about their academics, because this is a great academic institution as well," Manning said.
Joining Manning at Tulsa will be former Baker (Kansas) University coach and Brett Ballard and Justin Boman. Boman, Ballard and Manning all met while at Kansas. Manning already has his sights on the near future and being in the tournament next year. "We are going to put our best foot forward, build and work every day," Manning said. "The first thing I'll do is get to know everybody. I want to let people know that the entire new basketball staff here at TU wants to be a part of the community wants to be a part of the fabric of the university."
Manning could have left for the NBA limelight, but he didn't want to leave college hoops behind. "I enjoy the game of college basketball," he said. "It's a lot of energy, a lot of excitement, a lot of fun. I also enjoy the offthecourt side of it, spending time with the young men in terms of helping them grow up, sharing experiences.
"I think that's pretty much what life is all about. I've been very fortunate and blessed to have the experiences that I have. A lot of people helped me out along the way. I feel I need to share some of my experiences, the different things I've learned with the next generation."
Given the current hope that Manning brings to TU, one might argue that firing Doug Wojcik was the best thing that could have happened for Tulsa's basketball program. Yes, Wojcik has the most wins in school history, but after going 1-14 against Conference USA juggernaut Memphis and not being able to guide the Golden Hurricane to the NCAA tournament, fans were in an uproar. And with revenue and season-ticket sales declining drastically, Tulsa had to do something quickly. With the hiring of Manning, the Golden Hurricane basketball program is finally back on track. "This is another wonderful day in the history of TU athletics," said TU president, Dr. Steadman Upham. And we agree!
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