If the reports are true coming out that the Tulsa athletic department has hired Danny Manning to replace Doug Wojcik as their new head coach for the men’s basketball team, they are likely going to enjoy a hire that could end up rivaling Tubby Smith and even Bill Self before everything is said and done. After the vanilla role that Wojcik played the last seven years, Manning’s hire has the appropriate sizzle and substance to bring the team back to national prominence.
There was a time that the Tulsa basketball program was a prominent mid-major, not unlike Butler has been the last couple of seasons or how Gonzaga is regularly featured alongside the much larger conference dogs in the post-season. Both Smith and Self took turns at the helm and the Golden Hurricane was a strong brand in the sport.
Now times are completely different. Wojcik took over a team that endured two straight 9 win seasons, the worst in a long time for the Tulsa program and turned it back around with six consecutive winning seasons. But he never made the NCAA Tournament in that entire stretch, went 0-14 against rival Memphis and couldn’t deliver them to the next level. In short, it was a solid, steady run of decent success. Again, not exactly the shine the program has been used to in previous seasons.
Manning can change all of that, and he brings an incredible wealth of talent, knowledge and experience that can speak to the student-athlete. He’s been the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. He knows what it’s like to win as a player and coach in college basketball. He enjoyed a 16 career in the NBA, and most recently he’s worked alongside as an assistant coach since March 2007. His campus bio speaks for itself:
In his role as assistant coach, Manning works with KU’s big men. Eight Jayhawk bigs have been selected in the NBA Draft since he has been on staff – Wayne Simien, Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Cole Aldrich and twins Marcus and Markieff Morris. Manning recruited 2010 NBA first-round draft pick Xavier Henry to Kansas.
In short, Tulsa fans have a storied history that goes back to Clarence Iba and continues through Nolan Richardson, Smith and Self. The Manning hire has a similar feel. However in the same way, Manning takes away something from the KU program and fans will feel that loss. For those on the receiving end, however, this has to bring back the pride of years past and the hope for future glory.