TULSA, Okla. — It didn't take long for Danny Manning to realize the lineage of Tulsa basketball.
In the coaches' locker room that he'll now occupy, the former NBA All-Star noticed the pictures of Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith and Bill Self.
"All they've gone on to do since they left here is win national championships," Manning said Wednesday as he was formally introduced as Tulsa's new coach. Great, great tradition and I'm looking forward to being a part of it,"
Athletic director Ross Parmley picked Manning as the replacement for Doug Wojcik, who set the school's wins record in seven seasons in charge of the Golden Hurricane but never reached the NCAA tournament.
Tulsa has had six straight winning seasons.
"To get a job of this magnitude as my first job is unbelievable. It's a great opportunity and I am excited and I'm looking forward to making the most of it," Manning said. "We're going to play hard. We're going to play competitive. We're going to be respectful young men and humble, but hungry — hungry to get better as young men and as individuals on the team committed to one goal, which is going out and representing TU to the highest honor that we can."
Manning said he plans for the Golden Hurricane to play up-tempo, with a motion offense and pressure man-to-man.
"The biggest thing for us is on the defensive end, we don't want to give up any easy buckets," Manning said. "The philosophy is if the team can't score it will be hard for them to beat you."
Manning was the No. 1 pick in the 1988 NBA draft after winning the national title for Kansas that season. The 6-foot-10 power forward was an All-Star twice during a 15-year NBA career hampered by knee injuries.
Most recently, he spent nine years as an assistant coach with the Jayhawks, who lost to Kentucky in the national championship game Monday night. Kansas also won a national title and eight Big 12 regular-season titles during his time on the staff.
He gained a reputation for developing top interior talent with the Jayhawks, with his prominent pupils including first-round draft picks Cole Aldrich, twins Markieff and Marcus Morris and All-American Thomas Robinson.
"In basketball, you have to have an anchor — someone that is in the middle that secures things — and you kind of go from there," Manning said. "Guard play is going to be extremely important.
"I know that if we have quality big men, we're going to get quality guards because guards always want to play with good big guys."
Despite regularly finishing with a winning record and among the top teams in Conference USA, Tulsa did not produce top-tier NBA talents under Wojcik. Guard Ben Uzoh and center Jerome Jordan are both in the NBA but haven't solidified regular spots in a team's rotation.
"It's nice to have a coach I can look eye-to-eye to," freshman center David Wishon said.
"Being a big guy, both of us, of course he understands the game like I do. Plus, what he did in the NBA and through college, that's the same stuff that I want to do."
"It definitely excites me, just for the fact that he did those things," said 6-11 starting forward Kodi Maduka. "I just can't wait to reach my potential."
After injuries sidetracked his NBA career, Manning said he learned that details and preparation matter. Although he lost some quickness because of knee injuries, he was able to make up for some of it with anticipation — knowing what plays his opponents would run, what hand a player would use to drive against him and whether to expect a shot fake.
"He had to learn the game from an angles aspect. He was really athletic and learning the game I think has really made him into a better teacher, knowing those angles, knowing what defensive ways to guard and all those little things that you could ever imagine really help when he teaches us," said Aldrich, a member of Kansas' 2008 national title team who now plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Manning said he certainly hopes he can attract and develop top talent to Tulsa, which hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2003. Before then, the Golden Hurricane made it eight times in a decade.
Manning said he'd like to make it back to the NCAAs next year.
"I think if you go down and look at the long list of coaches that have been here and have had success and the players that have also had success, to me this is one of the very good jobs — the best job, in my opinion, that was available at this time," Manning said. "I'm tickled to death to be a part of it, and I can't wait to really get started."
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