Men's Basketball To Begin Practice On Saturday

The Tulane University men's basketball team will begin practice for the 2003-04 season on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Fogelman Arena. The Green Wave, which posted a 16-15 record last season, had five seniors depart last year's team and has replaced them with a five-man recruiting class which has been rated as high as No. 29 in the nation.

The Tulane University men's basketball team will begin practice for the 2003-04 season on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Fogelman Arena. The Green Wave, which posted a 16-15 record last season, had five seniors depart last year's team and has replaced them with a five-man recruiting class which has been rated as high as No. 29 in the nation. Returning starters Wayne Tinsley (Fontana, Calif.) and Ivan Pjevcevic (Belgrade, Serbia) are expected to lead the team into this year's campaign, which tips off with an exhibition game against Vasda on Tuesday, Nov. 11. The regular season opens on Tuesday, Nov. 25 against Southern University.

On Tuesday morning, head coach Shawn Finney, preparing for his fourth year at the helm of the Green Wave, held a preseason press briefing in the Hall of Fame Room of Tulane's Wilson Center.

Shawn Finney Opening Statement:
"Looking at the upcoming season, I am very excited about the players and what we're doing. Individual workouts have been phenomenal; I have been very impressed with the freshman, how they've picked up the drills we're doing. I'm really excited about that class. I'm excited also about our seniors, when you look at Wayne Tinsley and Ivan Pjevcevic, they are providing a great amount of leadership. I think they're going to be the key to this basketball team for the upcoming season. I'm expecting them to really lead the way.

I'm excited about our schedule, how we really open up at home and play a lot of in-state schools. Then we get a couple of tests with Mississippi State and LSU in the SEC before we get into league play. Under the new format, having the chance to play all the teams in the league, as we know it, is going to be a lot of fun. There are a lot of league changes so who knows what's going to happen there.

Q: How do you feel about all the conference realignment rumors; do you think it lessens Conference USA as a basketball league?
SF: I think right now everybody's trying to focus on trying to get I-A football leagues together, and make sure you're in the right I-A format. That's the big key for Tulane and for our institution to be in the right league for a I-A program that carries both basketball and football.

Q: How far away are you from being at the level that you want to be at year-in and year-out?
SF: When I took over the program only had seven guys on scholarship. I really think the foundation has been laid, and that's the big key when you look at what we've brought in over the last three years. We've laid the foundation. We had our best recruiting class last year. I think we're going to see the most impact of any freshmen we've had since we've been here, except for Wayne because he played so much as a freshman due to need. I'm expecting three of the freshmen to step in and play a lot of minutes and I've seen major improvement from all five of them.

That's what makes me feel so excited about this team is that I think we have the right blend of talent, the right blend of personality, and we're going to be a "team." That's been our big emphasis, play as a team. We're not looking for one guy to go out and score 25 to carry us for one night. I still think if we can get the right recruiting class this year we can take another step next season in the direction where we want to win 20 games a year.

Q: How far are you from being a team that reloads each year rather than one that is rebuilding?
SF: I think you can classify this as a rebuilding year, anytime you lose five seniors you can classify it as a rebuilding year. What position that puts us in is totally different. I feel like we have the right pieces this season. Can we win 20 games? Absolutely, but we're going to have to go out and play well together and we're going to have to do the right things.

But we're looking to rebuild and try to build on what we did last season in terms of trying to take care of home. Last year we didn't play very well at home and we didn't play well on the road and that's something we have to do a better job of this season.

Q: When you turned Marshall to stay here, was it more of what you're seeing this year or more of the future? Do you thing something can happen in the future, or a combination of both?
SF: That was a great opportunity, anytime you have a chance to go back home, be close to your family and a lot of friends, that was very difficult.

But I like the foundation we've laid here at Tulane, I like the direction of our athletic department, I like what Rick [athletic director Rick Dickson] has done with all our programs. They want us all to put the right product on the court; they want us to put the right kind of people that represent Tulane as well as our athletic department and our basketball program. With that being said, I like what we have coming this year and I like the future of our program and where we're going. That's the big key.

Q: You talked about the incoming freshman, what about the sophomores? SF: I didn't mean to leave anyone out; I could talk about all 13 guys. Quincy [sophomore center Quincy Davis] really came on last season; he really was a big difference in a couple games for us down the stretch. The confidence he's shown in individual workouts, the way he's shooting the ball, the way he's defending. That's going to be a different look for us, to have a young man in he post that can block shots. That really changes your defensive schemes; he is so long we call him Mr. Gadget because his arms go on forever. That's a big key, him in the middle.

Vy [sophomore forward Vytas Tatarunas], he has that ability to play inside and out, can shoot the ball, can post up, he's phenomenal around the basket. After having a year of maturing I think he's going to be a big factor for us coming in and playing 20-25 minutes a game or end up starting. Right now it's still a little bit open for two spots this year.

Q: What are those two spots?
SF: Right now, I think, one guy has to prove in the post that he's the man, and one wing player. Right now you have to give the edge to Marcus [junior guard Marcus Kinzer] because he's been here for two years, but the only guarantee is going to be Wayne [senior guard Wayne Tinsley], after three years.

But, I expect Ivan [Pjevcevic] to come in and start as he did last season; I think Marcus is going to be the man that the freshmen have to beat out at the start. I expect Quincy, but with George [senior center George Brown] playing well, being a senior, he might get the edge, you never know.

Q: Who are the three freshmen you expect to play a lot?
SF: I just think that of the five, three have that possibility. They all on different days give me hope. When you look at [6-8 forward] Kory Castine, he has gained 30 pounds since the beginning of the summer. You're looking at a young man who is now 253 (pounds). He is going to be a stout man. One thing he is having to learn is how to play physical. When you're that big in high school, you give somebody an elbow, they get thrown and it's a foul. He's having to learn how to play physical at this level and he's growing into that weight. That's been a big adjustment for him.

You can look at [5-11 guard] Troy Aaron, playing with a lot of confidence. He may be the most improved over the course of the summer and this fall period of individuals. [6-3 guard] Vincent Camper is just a powerful guard that can post up. He's 215; he'll probably play at 205 this year. He physically is ready to play in this league.

Then you have Chris [6-5 guard Chris Moore] and Dan [6-8 guard/forward Dan Fitzgerald] who are unbelievable shooters that play with such confidence. And those two guys, the way I want to play, if they can shoot the basketball, that is going to give them opportunities.

I don't know which three it's actually going to be. I'm anxious for Saturday because they are a lot of question marks, but there is a lot of hope.

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