The Tulane Green Wave comes into the Vanderbilt game with a record of 3-3. The Greenies have wins over Loyola (New Orleans) 74-58, Maine 84-65, and Southeast Missouri 81-60, all at home. They have lost to Rice 72-58, Central Florida 66-61, and New Orleans 80-67. The Rice and New Orleans games were on the opponents' home court and the Central Florida game took place at Tulane in the championship game of their own University Hoops Classic.
Tulane is coached by former Kentucky assistant Shawn Finney, who has a coaching record is 23-36 in the two years that he has been there. Last year, the Greenies had a 14-15 record, and 5-11 in Conference USA competition. One of the fourteen victories was an 87-77 win over Vanderbilt in New Orleans, after which Kevin Stallings said that it was the worst defense that any of his teams had ever played.
The leading scorer and rebounder for the Green Wave is 6-8 senior forward Brandon Brown (16.7 ppg, 9 rpg). Brown is also second in assists and leads the team in steals. He is a strong 220-pounder who is undoubtedly the team's best player.
Brown's running mate at forward is 6-6, 230-pound senior Nick Sinville (10.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg). He is in his second year at Tulane after transferring from the University of Minnesota, where he played his freshman and sophomore years. The presence of Brown and Sinville make the forward positions a definite strength of the Greenies.
Although he may not start, 6-10 junior Ivan Pjevcevic has been playing most of the minutes at the center position. He is averaging 6.8 ppg and is second in rebounds.
Waitari Marsh, 6-2 senior, went down with an injury in the first game of the season and returned to play against New Orleans. Like Pjevcevic, he may not be in the starting lineup but will play as many minutes as a starter. He had eleven points in 23 minutes of action in the New Orleans game. Last year he averaged 11.8 ppg.
The point guard is 6-1 senior Brandon Spann (14.8 ppg, 4.2 assists per game). Last year he averaged 13.4 ppg, second on the team to Brown's 14.8.
6-5 forward Karl Hollingsworth and 6-5 junior Wayne Tinsley will both play plenty of minutes in the Vanderbilt game. Both are wing players and Tinsley scored 6.1 ppg last season. 5-11 sophomore Marcus Kinzer, who is from Nashville, is the backup point guard. 6-2 guard Byron Parker may also play substantial minutes and 6-10 backup center George Brown (like Kinzer, played his high school basketball in Nashville) and 6-9 freshman forward Quincy Davis could get into the game.
Hollingsworth has been slowed by a foot injury and shooting guard Ben Benfield, 6-4 sophomore, missed the last two games because of injury. One reason for Tulane's unexpectedly slow start this season is the injuries that have kept the team off balance.
Although Brown, Spann, Sinville, and Marsh give Tulane plenty of scoring power, the offense has not been consistent this season. On the other hand, the defense has appeared to be improved and held high-scoring Hector Romero of New Orleans to a 19-5 shooting night from the field in the Greenies' last game. Rebounding has not been a strong point of the team, but three-point shooting has (40% accuracy to date), with Spann, Benfield (before his injury), and Pjevcevcic being best at long distance.
Both Tulane and Vanderbilt could be looking past this game to the next one on their schedules. The Greenies play Kentucky in New Orleans next Tuesday, and Vanderbilt goes to Indiana on Monday.
Vanderbilt has to be considered a definite favorite in this game. With the home court advantage, the Commodores may be expected to win in the 7-15 point range if they don't have their thoughts too much on the Indiana trip.