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Tulane Hoops Q&A With Fear The Wave

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JP Gooderham from Fear The Wave Blog took some time to answer some questions about the green wave before tonight's matchup between the No. 13 Huskies and 9-1 Tulane.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

UWDP reached out to JP Gooderham from Fear The Wave Blog to get an inside scoop on Tulane before tonight's matchup between the Green Wave and the No. 13 Washington Huskies.

1. Tulane opened the season with a loss to Wake Forest but has since won 9 straight, but against what many would deem lesser opponents. Are the Green Wave for real or have they benefited from a soft schedule?
I'm going to be honest here. We don't know. The 9-1 start for this Green Wave program is definitely encouraging, especially with only one full season since a devastating six Tulane players announced on the same day they would transfer away to other teams. Things looked bleak for a squad that seemed to finally be on the rise, especially with an upgrade in conferences coming down the pipeline (and tougher competition in the AAC world).

Fast forward to 2014, and Tulane is 9-1 with two road trips against ranked opponents this week. To date though, Tulane's schedule is ranked 351st most difficult by Ken Pomeroy. The Green Wave has achieved some gaudy wins against some of the weakest teams in basketball (see: dropping 100 on Mississippi Valley State) but the reality is that many of these teams bear no resemblance to what we're going to see with the Huskies.

I would choose two games as the most important litmus tests of Tulane's ability. In the opening game against Wake Forest, the Green Wave came out ice cold, got dominated in the paint, and posted a 30% field goal percentage en route to the only loss of the season.

Weeks later against Mississippi State of the SEC, the Green Wave had its first win over a major conference opponent. Guard Jay Hook had five 3-pointers by himself. The team shot well, brought pressure in the paint against a much bigger team, and effectively used its possessions in a close game.

The question will be which of those two teams comes out in Seattle.

2. Louis Dabney (13.1), Jay Hook (12.1) and Jonathan Stark (11.4) are Tulane's three leading scorers. Describe their games in a few sentences and what they bring to the table.
Three-headed monster. When Tulane is on, any and all of those three players are expected to be producing buckets. They are three talented shooters who can be extremely dangerous when they find rhythm from the perimeter.

In the last game against Jackson State, Tulane struggled to build momentum with Hook and Stark laying fairly low against the Tigers' pressure, so Dabney steps up and drops a casual 22 points.

As a rule of thumb, against a team of this caliber, if two of those three players are having "on" nights, expect this game to be surprisingly close. Tulane has been ranked in the top 30 for field goal percentage throughout the season, and those are the guys who can make possessions meaningful.

3. Tulane's two tallest players play limited minutes, do you think the Green Wave have the size to deal with the UW's post players?
This definitely goes back to how difficult it is to gauge Tulane's progress until this week. Against Wake Forest, I'd probably grade our ability to play under-sized and bring pressure in the paint at a "D." By Mississippi State (a few weeks later), it was up to a B+/A- against a similarly over-sized team.

The key factors in Tulane's growth have been freshman Dylan Osetkowski (6'9") and sophomore Payton Henson (6'8") at forward who have looked better and better in this early season (with Henson having his breakthrough 20 point and 8 rebound performance a game ago).

That said, just keeping it real here, Robert Upshaw is an "x factor" type of player. We haven't seen anyone with his size yet, so this is going to be a tremendous test for those young players. Beyond that, I have been really impressed with Upshaw's awareness and ability to open up space on the floor.

Tulane will need to find a way to keep within 5-6 total rebounds of the Huskies to make this competitive. If Washington can thoroughly dominate on the boards, the Green Wave will need a near perfect performance from the guards to stick around.

4. What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the Green Wave this season?
The strength is absolutely shooting the basketball. It's the bread and butter of this basketball team.

Unlike previous years, depth is a new positive factor for the Green Wave. In the last matchup, 12 players had meaningful minutes in a close victory. It's not exactly the Kentucky platoon system, but Coach Ed Conroy has the luxury of keeping his rotation going and playing up-tempo basketball against athletic teams.

The weakness is going to be size and athleticism in the front-court. Like I mentioned, in games like Mississippi State, the forwards have over-performed in their duty. They will need to count on that for this matchup.

Additionally, while the number of weapons has increased, Coach Conroy has not quite figured out the rotation he needs to sustain offensive momentum.

Give us some fun facts about the Tulane team this season.
Coach Conroy takes his team out for ice cream after every road victory. I am not sure if they have researched spots around the Alaska Airlines Arena, but the Green Wave is perfect on the road so far his season, so who knows?

We have a walk-on transfer from Northwestern named Aaron Liberman, and he has a Tulane-themed yarmulke that he wears on-court, which is pretty awesome.

Highlight of the year so far was probably during the game at home against the Bulldogs when the camera found famed political strategist and Tulane professor James Carville sitting near a Santa Claus in a Green Wave-inspired suit. That's New Orleans, for you.

6. Prediction for the game?

Washington 75 - Tulane 61

Thanks to JP for informing us Husky fans before tonight's game. Make sure youfollow Fear The Wave on Twitter, and don't forget to leave your thoughts about the Huskies or the Green Wave in the comments section.