Basketball Wiki

Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
School Name: University of Tulsa
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Arena: Reynolds Center
Capacity: 8,355
Conference: The American
Head coach: Doug Wojcik

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane basketball team represents the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The team participates in American Athletic Conference. The men’s team is currently coached by Doug Wojcik.

The team has long been successful, especially since the hiring of Nolan Richardson in 1980. Many big-name coaches previously worked at Tulsa, like University of Kansas coach Bill Self and University of Minnesota coach Tubby Smith. In 2005, Street & Smith's named the University of Tulsa as the 59th best college basketball program of all time.[1]


Clarence Iba, brother of Henry Iba, helped to springboard Tulsa to success when named the head coach in 1949. He coached at the school for 11 years, the longest tenure of any Tulsa coach, and is the all-time winningest coach at the school with 137 wins in his 11 seasons.

Nolan Richardson is credited with bringing the Tulsa program to national prominence when hired in 1980, and he led the school to the 1981 NIT Championship and had a .763 winning percentage at the school. He became the first coach in NCAA history to win 50 games in his first two seasons.[2]

In the 1990s and 2000s, a succession of Tulsa coaches went on to big name programs across the country, including Tubby Smith, Buzz Peterson, and Bill Self. The team remained successful throughout the string of coaches.

Notable assistants in the program’s history have included Billy Gillispie, Flip Saunders, Kevin O’Neill, Tom Izzo, Mike Anderson, and Ron Jirsa.


Retired basketball jerseys
Number Player Year
12 Willie Biles 1974[3]
20 Steve Harris 1985
21 Shea Seals 1997
24 James King 1963
25 Paul Pressey 1982
30 Bob Patterson 1955

Tulsa has had a series of great players at the program, many of whom have gone on to play in the NBA. Successful players to never make it to the NBA include Gary Collier, the 1994 MVC player of the year, Michael Scott, the 1989 and 1991 MVC defensive player of the year, and Willie Biles who led the MVC in scoring in both the 1972-73 and 1973-1974 seasons. [4]

Among those who did make it to the NBA, James King, who came back to coach the program after his NBA career, and Bingo Smith had the greatest success. King was selected to the 1968 NBA All-Star Game, and Smith scored more than 10,000 points in his career and his number is retired by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Golden Hurricane players in the NBA[]

  • Steve Bracey (1973-1975)
  • Al Cueto (1970-1971)
  • Julian Hammond (1968-1972)
  • Steve Harris (1985-1990)
  • James King (1964-1973)
  • Tracy Moore (1992-1997)
  • Paul Pressey (1983-1993)
  • Michael Ruffin (2000-2007)
  • Shea Seals (1998)
  • Bingo Smith (1970-1980)
  • Ken Smith (1976)
  • Ben Uzoh (2010-)



Tulsa’s basketball program was founded by W.R. Bergen in 1907, when the school still went by the name Kendall College. It went 1-1 in its first season. Following the 1908-09 season, the team went on hiatus for several years before restarting for the 1913-14 season under Harvey Allen.[6] In 1917, the school played its first games outside the state of Oklahoma, but did not see great success until Francis Schmidt became head coach in 1918; Schmidt led the school to 16 consecutive victories in the 1919-20 season, the school record.[7]. The team hit hard times and achieved occasional modest success until the arrival of Clarence Iba in 1949. Of special note is the 1942-1943 winless squad under Mike Milligan, whose team went 0-10.[8]

Under Iba, Tulsa reached the post-season for the first time in the 1953 NIT.[9] (In March 1921, Tulsa had been invited to the National A.A.U. tournament after an 18-1 season which widely regarded them as Oklahoma champions).[10] In 1955, Iba led the Golden Hurricane to their first Missouri Valley Conference title and NCAA tournament appearance. Joe Swank succeeded Iba in 1960. It was under Swank that the color barrier was broken in the Tulsa basketball program.[11] Swank had some winning seasons, but the program would be without real success until the arrival of Nolan Richardson.

Nolan Richardson’s hiring helped to usher in a new era of success at Tulsa that has remained fairly consistent since then. He led the team the NIT Championship in the 1980-1981 season, his first at the school. Richardson also won two MVC regular season and two MVC tournament championships in his five season tenure. His flamboyant personality made him extremely popular; his teams adopted McFadden & Whitehead's "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" as their theme song during the Richardson years.[12] Richardson was succeeded by J. D. Barnett, who continued the team’s success, winning one tournament and one regular season championship and finishing lower than third in the conference only once. Barnett was fired, however, due to the significant increase in expectations at Tulsa following Richardson’s success.[13]

Barnett was succeeded by Tubby Smith, who went on to coach at Kentucky, Georgia and Minnesota. Smith spent four seasons at Tulsa, winning two MVC championships and leading them past the first round of the NCAA tournament for the first time, to the Sweet Sixteen in both the 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 seasons. A succession of high-profile coaches came through following Smith’s departure for Kentucky. Steve Robinson led the team to consecutive NCAA appearances before departing for Florida State. Bill Self succeeded Robinson for three seasons, winning two WAC titles in the 1998-99 and 1999-00 seasons and leading Tulsa to its best record ever, a 32-5 record in the 1999-00 season. Tulsa advanced to the Elite Eight in the 2000 NCAA tournament as a #7 seed.[14] Self departed for Illinois and was succeeded by Buzz Peterson. Peterson led the team to the 2001 NIT Championship and promptly took the head coaching position at the University of Tennessee.

Following Peterson’s departure, John Phillips led the team to NCAA tournaments in his first two seasons and won a WAC title. However, he passed on local high school star Caleb Green, a decision that came back to haunt him when Green signed with ORU.[15] Phillips resigned on Christmas Day, 2004. The team finished that season 9th in the WAC, TU’s worst ever conference finish.[16]. Doug Wojcik was hired before the 2005-06 season to revive the program. He led the team to 20 wins in both his second, third, and fourth seasons and the 2008 College Basketball Invitational championship, led by tournament MVP Jerome Jordan. Wojcik's hiring also coincided with Tulsa's decision to join Conference USA.

Much has been made of Tulsa’s ability to hire good coaching candidates but their inability to retain them like Gonzaga has been able to. Since Barnett’s firing after the 1990-1991 season, no coach has stayed at the program more than four seasons and all but one have departed for larger programs. Barnett has speculated that finances may be a reason when larger programs come calling, but he also “[does]n’t know what the real philosophical reasons are.”[17]


Coach of the Year

  • Clarence Iba - 1955 - MVC
  • Joe Swank - 1967 - MVC
  • Ken Hayes - 1969 - MVC
  • Ken Hayes - 1973 - MVC
  • Nolan Richardson - 1981 - MVC
  • Nolan Richardson - 1985 - MVC
  • J. D. Barnett - 1987 - MVC
  • Tubby Smith - 1994 - MVC
  • Tubby Smith - 1995 - MVC
  • Bill Self - 2000 - WAC

Player of the Year

  • Bingo Smith - 1969 - MVC
  • Paul Pressey - 1982 - MVC
  • Gary Collier - 1994 - MVC

Defensive Player of the Year

  • Michael Scott - 1989 - MVC
  • Michael Scott - 1991 - MVC
  • Lou Dawkins - 1994 - MVC

Freshman of the Year

  • Shea Seals - 1994 - MVC
  • Greg Harrington - 1999 - WAC



The Golden Hurricane have made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances (12–14 combined record), 9 NIT appearances (11–7 combined record), and one CBI appearance (5–1 combined record). They are twice NIT champions, in 1981 and 2001, and were champions of their only CBI appearance in 2008.

NCAA Tournament Results[]

Year Round Opponent Result/Score
1955 Sweet Sixteen
Regional Third Place Game
L 69–59
W 68–67
1982* Second Round Houston L 78–74
1984* Second Round Louisville L 69–67
1985 First Round UTEP L 79–75
1986 First Round Navy L 87–68
1987 First Round Oklahoma L 74–69
1994 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Oklahoma State
W 112–102
W 82–80
L 108–84
1995 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Old Dominion
W 68–62
W 64–52
L 76–51
1996 First Round Louisville L 82–80 OT
1997 First Round
Second Round
Boston U
W 81–52
L 65–59
1999 First Round
Second Round
College of Charleston
W 62–53
L 97–56
2000 First Round
Second Roudn
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Miami (FL)
North Carolina
W 89–62
W 69–61
W 80–71
L 59–55
2002 First Round
Second Round
W 71–69
L 87–82
2003 First Round
Second Round
W 84–71
L 61–60
  • Received first round bye in 1982 & 1984

NIT Results[]

Year Round Opponent Result/Score
1953 First Round Duquesne L 88–69
1967 First Round Marquette L 64–60
1969 First Round Saint Peter's L 74–71
1981 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
Texas-Pan American
South Alabama
West Virginia
W 81–71
W 76–72
W 69–68
W 89–87
W 86–84
1990 First Round Oklahoma State L 83–74
1991 First Round Oklahoma L 111–86
2001 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
UC Irvine
W 75–71
W 73–70
W 77–75
W 72–64
W 79–66
2009 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
W 68–59
L 74–55
2010 First Round Kent State L 75–74

CBI Results[]

Year Round Opponent Result/Score
2008 First Round
Finals Game 1
Finals Game 2
Finals Game 3
Miami (OH)
W 61–45
W 69–60
W 73–69
W 73–68
L 83–74
W 70–64

Results By Season (1907-2010)[]


Tulsa has been a member of a variety of conferences over its history. With Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the Oklahoma Collegiate Conference was formed for the 1914-1915 season. Tulsa would participate in this conference for fifteen years, with occasional breaks.[20] In 1929, the program co-founded the Big Four Conference, which lasted five seasons.[7].

The University of Tulsa joined the Missouri Valley Conference in 1934. Tulsa remained a member of the MVC until 1996, when it joined the Western Athletic Conference for the 1996-1997 season. While a member of the WAC, it was at various times in both the Mountain and Pacific Division. Tulsa joined Conference USA with the 2005-2006 season.[21]



The Reynolds Center

Tulsa currently plays in the Reynolds Center, a 8,355 capacity on-campus arena adjacent to Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. The Reynolds Center was completed in 1998. The student section is known as the Reynolds Rowdies, and efforts are made by the coaching staff through frequent e-mails to encourage attendance and creativity from the student body. Previously, the Golden Hurricane had played off-campus, using the Tulsa Convention Center from the mid 1976-77 season on. Before the Convention Center, the team played at the Expo Square Pavilion from the 1947-1948 season. In the early years of the program, the team played at various area high schools and in smaller on-campus gymnasiums.


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Tulsa’s primary basketball rival is Oral Roberts, which is located in southern Tulsa. The teams began play in 1974 and currently play annually. Tulsa hired Bill Self away from Oral Roberts in 1997.

Tulsa’s other rivalries have not had the intensity as that with Oral Roberts. While in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Golden Hurricane had an extensive rivalry with Wichita State;[22] that has largely faded since Tulsa left the conference. The team has also had longstanding competitions against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Arkansas. The rivalry with Arkansas was enhanced with their hiring of Nolan Richardson away from Tulsa in 1985. Tulsa had an intense rivalry with Fresno State and Hawaii while a member of the Western Athletic Conference. Southern Methodist remains a fairly interesting rivalry, given that the two schools sometimes recruit similar players and that current Southern Methodist coach Matt Doherty was considered a front-runner for the Tulsa job prior to Doug Wojcik taking the helm; likewise, Doug Wojcik once interviewed for the Southern Methodist job.

With Tulsa’s move to Conference USA, it is hoped that a restoration of the Golden Hurricane program could form a natural rivalry with Memphis and UAB for dominance in the conference. [21]


  1. University of Tulsa men’s basketball media guide, pg. 139
  2. "Coaching Great Nolan Richardson and Three Former Athletes to Receive Induction into TU Athletic Hall of Fame." Best of Tulsa. Oct. 8, 2006.
  3. Bailey, Eric. Golden Hurricane to honor Biles, Tulsa World, February 12, 2010.
  4. University of Tulsa Media Guide, pp. 24, 26
  5. Basketball Reference. “Players from the University of Tulsa.”
  6. Bonham, Chad. Golden Hurricane Basketball at the University of Tulsa. Chicago: Arcadia, 2004, pg. 9
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bonham, pg. 10
  8. Bonham, pg. 19
  9. Bonham, pg. 22
  10. Logsdon, Guy Williams. The University of Tulsa: A History from 1882 to 1972, Doctoral Dissertation at the University of Tulsa, 1975, pp. 158, 262.
  11. Bonham, pg. 35
  12. "Tubbs happy for Richardson: Q&A with Nolan Richardson." Tulsa World, Oct. 13, 2006.
  13. Bonham, pg. 68
  14. Bill Haisten, "When TU was Elite: Ten years ago, Bill Self coached the Golden Hurricane to a 32-5 record and within one game of advancing to the Final Four", Tulsa World, March 26, 2010.
  15. Brown, Mike. ORU seniors hoping for a Tulsa sweep, Tulsa World, November 28, 2006.
  16. University of Tulsa Media Guide, pg. 153
  17. Tiberii, Jeff. “Tulsa produces, can’t keep best coaches.” Daily Orange, Jan. 26, 2005.
  18. University of Tulsa Media Guide, pg. 24
  19. University of Tulsa 2006-07 Men's Basketball Media Guide
  20. Bonham, pg. 9
  21. 21.0 21.1 ”Six Schools Join Conference USA”., July 5, 2005. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Six" defined multiple times with different content
  22. Bonham, pg. 10.

External Links[]