Danny Manning is heading back to the NCAA Tournament, this time as head coach of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, who hired Manning as a head coach in March 2012. After a first year riddled by injuries to key players, the Golden Hurricane has bounced back in the 2013-2014 season, winning 21 games and maintaining a 13-3 win-loss record in Conference USA.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane capped off a fine regular season by defeating the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 69-60 in the title game of the Conference USA tournament, propelling the Golden Hurricane into the NCAA tournament with plenty of momentum. All the more impressive for a team that had its best two players from last year transfer and that relies heavily on the play of five sophomores to keep itself running.
One of the key Tulsa players is James Woodard, who scored 27 points in the final game of the Conference USA tournament to help the Golden Hurricane reach the NCAA tournament.
"It's an indescribable feeling," Woodard said to the Associated Press. "Growing up as a kid, you can't wait for March Madness. To be a part of that, this time around, and for us being so young as a team, it's definitely a dream come true."
A young team maybe, but with Danny Manning at the helm they have a wealth of NCAA tournament experience, at least on the coaching staff. It was 1988 when Manning lead Kansas University to the National Title, establishing himself as a household name in NCAA hoops and becoming the "Most Outstanding Player" in the 1988 tournament. He'd leave KU as its all-time leading rebounder and scorer.
Later, he'd also gain experience recruiting and developing players as well as being an assistant coach under the Bill Self coaching staff, where he recruited two McDonald's High School All-Americans. He'd spend a total of nine years at KU under Bill Self before Tulsa hired him in March 2012 to coach the Golden Hurricane.