Changing coaches is not the problem at Tulane
It is a typical scenario at Tulane. The head coach, in this case in his sixth season, isn’t winning. And, a dwindling fan base is once again clamoring for change.
So, I asked a fellow college basketball coach, who asked to remain anonymous, this question: “What kind of coach is Ed Conroy?”
“He’s a very good coach,” said the college basketball coach. “But, he has a very tough job.”
The history of Tulane basketball has at least one outlier. In the ’90s, head coach Perry Clark took the Green Wave to three NCAA tournaments in four seasons. But, before and after Clark? Nada. No NCAAs.
At the end of the Clark years, and after, Tulane basketball has struggled. And, Tulane has tried different routes. Shawn Finney (Kentucky) and Dave Dickerson (Maryland) were assistants from pedigree programs. Conroy was a head coach who had some success at The Citadel.
The numbers say just how tough a job it is coaching Tulane men’s basketball. The Green Wave hasn’t been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 since early February 1997. Tulane’s last win over a ranked team occurred in the last millennium. That was Dec. 22, 1999, a 73-62 in over North Carolina State.
There are several layers to Tulane’s basketball issues. And, a big issue is Devlin Fieldhouse.
Over the last few years, Tulane sank millions into a renovation of a structure that was built in the early ’30s with money earned from the football team’s berth in the Rose Bowl. Devlin looks better than it did. But, I don’t know how a recruit can walk into that building and see anything but a lack of commitment.
The new Hertz practice facility was supposed to be a huge asset in recruiting. It has not been.
If Tulane had pooled the money for the practice facility and the money spent on Devlin Fieldhouse renovations, the school would have been halfway to the money for what is needed, a new place to play.
Decades of losing have done nothing to stem the apathy for the sport on campus. Even moving into a much better league, from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, has done nothing to move the needle on attendance.
And, the league itself is an issue. Tulane could be a middle-of-the-pack team in Conference USA. Not so in the American, where Jerry Palm of CBS Sports projected three teams from the American would get NCAA Tournament berths.
And, there’s money. The 2016 recruiting class in Louisiana is good, the best it has been in some time. But, it is not great.
Tulane’s men’s basketball coach needs the recruiting budget to go nationwide to attract players. Great players are able to close out games in the final five minutes.
Last Sunday at SMU, Tulane led by one at the half, then shot 32 percent in the second half of a 74-53 loss.
So, I asked another accomplished basketball coach, familiar with Tulane basketball, this question: “How tough is it to win there?”
“Even a good coach can have a very tough time being successful,” said the coach.
History says he is correct.