A proud history

Through coaching changes, conference changes and various ups and downs, TU basketball has created a high standard of success, producing wins and top-notch student-athletes.



For more on the University of Tulsa basketball team: Click here for "The dream team," ranking the ten best TU basketball players ever. Click here for an online exclusive look at the 100 best players in TU's 100 seasons.


For most college basketball junkies, phrases such as “bracket busters,” “mid-majors” or even “Cinderellas” usually conjure images of giant-killing programs such as Gonzaga, Butler, Xavier, Valparaiso and Dayton.

But to find one of the original party crashers, look no further than The University of Tulsa.

“You’ve got smaller conference teams that have had success at the national level,” says Tubby Smith, University of Minnesota head coach. “But I think Tulsa has been able to sustain that for a longer period of time. Tulsa’s figured it out better than most non-BCS schools.”

Smith should know. He led Tulsa to its first appearance in the Sweet 16 in March 1994. That and other watershed moments in TU hoops history are part of a larger narrative that culminates this year with the school’s historic 100th season — a landmark that provides a perfect opportunity to look back at one of college basketball’s most accomplished programs.

Paving the way

While Francis Schmidt (1918-22) and Chet Benefiel (1932-39) are credited as two key coaching pioneers, TU enjoyed its first taste of big-time college basketball with the arrival of Clarence Iba (brother of Oklahoma State University’s legendary Henry Iba) in 1949.

Although Iba finished his 11-year career with a losing record (137-147), he is best remembered for taking Tulsa to its first major post-season tournaments — the 1953 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and the 1955 NCAA tournament — and for coaching All-American Bob Patterson.

Jim KingWhen Joe Swank took the helm in 1960, the talent pool kept flowing with All-MVC (Missouri Valley Conference) players such as Jim “Country” King (whom Iba recruited), Bill Kusleika and Bobby “Bingo” Smith, who highlighted the program’s ability to attract top-flight athletes.

From 1968-75, under the leadership of Ken Hayes, the program enjoyed seven winning seasons and featured talented athletes such as Ron Carson, Steve Bracey, Dana Lewis and Ken Smith. But perhaps no one captured the fans’ imagination better than scoring phenomenon Willie Biles, who still holds the school’s single-game scoring record, with 48 points against Wichita State University on March 3, 1973, and St. Cloud State University on Dec. 13, 1973. Hayes eventually left TU for New Mexico State University. Working with TU’s small budget had worn him down. Playing in the brutal MVC with little reward didn’t help. Jim King returned to his alma mater to fill the position but found the same reality to be too great a mountain to climb. Something special, perhaps magical, would need to take place for TU to reclaim its past glory.

The golden standard

Nolan Richardson came to Tulsa in 1980 as both a hot property and somewhat of an oddity.

He had just won a national championship at West Texas Junior College but also came to a program that had never employed an African-American coach.

It didn’t take long for Richardson’s outgoing personality and up-tempo style to grab the city’s attention.

In that first season, Tulsa defeated defending NCAA champions and No. 8-ranked Louisville, as well as No. 16-ranked Wichita State.

Although snubbed by the NCAA tournament (only 48 teams were invited that year), Richardson and his team stormed the NIT and shocked the basketball world with an overtime victory against Syracuse University in the title game.

“Basketball took off like a wildfire,” Richardson says. “I remember, when I first got here, I had about 200 tickets to just give away. I’ll never forget when (university President) Dr. (Paschal) Twyman called me in and told me we could sell those tickets now. The rest of it is history.”

After five consecutive postseason tournament appearances — two in the NIT and three in the NCAA —Richardson left for the University of Arkansas, where he coached the Razorbacks to a national championship in 1994.

J.D. Barnett had the unenviable job of replacing him. And although TU reached the post-season four times over the next six years, Barnett never recreated his predecessor’s level of success.

Ironically, Tulsa’s next coach was a former assistant coach under Barnett at Virginia Commonwealth University. Orlando “Tubby” Smith brought back the up-tempo, pressing style of basketball that TU fans enjoyed during the Richardson years.

After enduring a painful year of NCAA probation brought on by sanctions incurred by the track and field program, little was expected of the team heading into the 1993-94 season.

shea sealsLed by Gary Collier and Shea Seals, TU surprised everyone by winning the MVC regular-season title. Because of an upset loss in the conference tournament, TU squeaked into the NCAA tournament as the No. 12 seed. Playing in Oklahoma City, the Golden Hurricane dominated the University of California, Los Angeles, and then came back from behind to defeat Oklahoma State University. Smith’s team duplicated the feat the following season with another Sweet 16 appearance.

When Smith departed for The University of Georgia in 1995, TU hired Steve Robinson, a University of Kansas assistant, who kept the NCAA train rolling. Two years later, he left for Florida State University and was replaced by Bill Self, Oral Roberts University head coach. By his third season, Self had concocted a formula that would take Tulsa to unprecedented heights.

Few will disagree that the 1999-2000 team was the best in TU history. The squad finished the season 32-5 and narrowly missed the Final Four with a 59-55 loss against North Carolina. Guard Eric Coley, a player that Self says, “could play with anybody,” was one of the keys to that team’s success.

While on vacation in Florida in 2000, Self received a call from ESPN reporter Andy Katz asking him about rumors he was on the list to replace Lon Krueger, University of Illinois head coach, who was leaving to lead the Atlanta Hawks. Self had not heard he was a candidate.

“If that had happened right after the season, I wouldn’t have done it,” Self admits. “I was too emotional with what was going on at Tulsa and how good everyone had been to me. It was strange timing. I didn’t want anything like that to occur because I was totally content where I was.”

Nevertheless, Self took the Illinois job June 9, 2000.

Still a force

Self’s replacement, Buzz Peterson, came from Appalachian State University. After a disappointing follow-up to the 2000 Elite Eight season, first-year coach Peterson led Tulsa to the NIT. Rumors were already swirling that he was going to leave for The University of Tennessee. In light of the possible change, TU’s players decided they weren’t ready for the season to end and kept playing all the way to the school’s second NIT title.

When longtime assistant coach John Phillips took over for Peterson April 9, 2001, it was business as usual. Phillips led Tulsa to a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament title and a pair of NCAA appearances. But after a losing season in 2003-04 and a poor start to the 2004-05 campaign, Phillips bowed out on Christmas Day.

Since that time, Tulsa has once again found the balance between stability and success with head coach Doug Wojcik. The Naval Academy alum earned his basketball stripes as teammate David Robinson’s point guard and as an assistant at high-profile schools such as The University of North Carolina and Michigan State University.

Wojcik has led Tulsa to a school record — four consecutive 20-win seasons, along with three post-season tournament appearances. In 2007-08 TU made an impressive run to claim the inaugural College Basketball Invitational (CBI) title.

Throughout all the coaching and conference changes, TU basketball has somehow managed to maintain a remarkable level of competitiveness. The numbers don’t lie: 14 NCAA appearances, 10 NIT appearances, two NIT championships, one CBI championship, seven All-Americans and more than 90 all-conference selections.

Perhaps more importantly, Tulsa can proudly lay claim to some of the finest student-athletes to grace the basketball court and the classroom. For Wojcik, that’s what this 100th-season celebration is really all about.

“I represent a great community,” Wojcik says. “I represent a very good private institution academically, which I really like. I know what I have here at Tulsa. It’s a great job. I have a better job, in my mind, than a lot of people, including some BCS schools. This season is a celebration of all the former players and coaches and the success. It’s just another great way to tell people our story.”

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January 2019

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
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Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
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Ron Campbell, director of the 1960’s Saturday Morning Beatles Cartoon series and one of the animators of the Beatles film Yellow Submarine will make a rare personal appearance at...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grant's Frames
8007-A S. Sheridan Rd
Square One Shopping Center
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Rock Art Show
Telephone: 610-389-1807
Contact Name: Scott Segelbaum
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Hike the Garden’s 1.5 mile nature trail by the full moon to discover the night sights and sounds of the forest and prairie. Drinks and kits for making s’mores over fire pits will be...

Cost: $10 per person for members; $15 for non-members

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
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Ron Campbell, director of the 1960’s Saturday Morning Beatles Cartoon series and one of the animators of the Beatles film Yellow Submarine will make a rare personal appearance at...

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Grant's Frames
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Square One Shopping Center
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Rock Art Show
Telephone: 610-389-1807
Contact Name: Scott Segelbaum
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So You Want to Make a Movie? Learn how to take your movie idea from conception to reality through hands-on guidance. The goal is to create a short digital video to be submitted to a local film...

Cost: $375

Where:
Ahha Tulsa
101 E. Archer St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa
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Ron Campbell, director of the 1960’s Saturday Morning Beatles Cartoon series and one of the animators of the Beatles film Yellow Submarine will make a rare personal appearance at...

Cost: Free

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Grant's Frames
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Tulsa, OK  74133
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Contact Name: Scott Segelbaum
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FREE Speaking Event “Astronomy, God, and the Search for Elegance” Scientific theories must do more than merely satisfy the data; they must do so in a way that is (to use a term...

Cost: FREE

Where:
ORU Global Learning Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Telephone: 918-495-6000
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Theme Imitation Imitation is a form of flattery. Learn how writers mimic themes, voice and tone – with one-on-one mentoring - to create your own unique piece of poetry. Instructor: Clemonce...

Cost: $300

Where:
Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa
700 N. Greenwood Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa
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Every Wednesday Live Event Trivia is at The Willows Family Ales - Show starts at 7 and is free to play! Movie scenes, Finish the Lyric, Classic Trivia, and more! The crew from T-Town Tacos will be...

Cost: Free

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The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
tulsa, OK  74120
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Cost: Free

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Willow's Family Ales
418 S. Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Animal People: Lecture with Dan Musgrave Thursday, January 24, 9:30 - 10:45 am What does it mean to be an 'Animal person'? For that matter, what does it mean to be a person? Drawing upon his...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong
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HumanNature: Photography Workshop with Dan Musgrave Thursday, January 24,  2 - 3:30 pm Think of the average American home: climate controlled, pest free, and human centric. Yet, as Jeff Goldblum...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong
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Cost: Free

Where:
Grant's Frames
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Sponsor: Rock Art Show
Telephone: 610-389-1807
Contact Name: Scott Segelbaum
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Body/Mind Techniques for Managing Stress.   Trauma, fear, panic attacks, PTSD, diabetes, chronic pain, anxiety and phobias all have components related to emotional or physical...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Hardesty Regional Library
8316 E. 93rd Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Success Skills
Telephone: 405-401-3519
Contact Name: Ron Watkins

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Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

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Golf Oklahoma is bringing back the Oklahoma Golf Expo for 2019. And we’re tremendously excited to have a busy south Tulsa location as our new venue. The Tulsa Golf Expo will be Jan. 25-26...

Cost: TBA

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Marriott Tulsa Hotel Southern Hills
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Sponsor: Golf Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-280-0787
Contact Name: Chris Swafford
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Friday, January 25, 1 - 2 pm Chimpanzees in the Congo Basin exhibit some of the most complex tool behaviors documented outside of humans.  This talk will share recent discoveries on how young...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong
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Cost: $60.00

Where:
Brady Theater
105 West Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Cost: $50

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Topeca Coffee
1229 E. Admiral Blvd.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: OSU-Tulsa
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The annual Tulsa Eagle Day has been renamed to “Eagle Watch and Raptor Rally.” It will be on Jan. 26, 2019 from 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at Jenks High School, Building 6. There will be presentations...

Cost: Free

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Jenks High School, Building 6
205 E. B St.
Jenks, OK
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Sponsor: Tulsa Audubon Society
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The Orbit Initiative, produced by The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust, resumes its FREE community satellite adventures at seven local community centers this Saturday, January 12th, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Various
Various
Tulsa, OK  Various
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Sponsor: The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust
Telephone: 918-596-7119
Contact Name: Jeremy Stevens
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Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

More information

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Cost: TBA

Where:
Marriott Tulsa Hotel Southern Hills
1902 E 71st St
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Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Golf Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-280-0787
Contact Name: Chris Swafford
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Pain Management Class Non-medical Treatments for Pain Non-medical treatments may be used to treat chronic pain, along with pain medicines. They might also be used alone for mild pain or...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Glenpool Library
730 E. 141st Street
Glenpool, OK  74033
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Sponsor: Success Skills
Telephone: 405-401-3519
Contact Name: Ron Watkins

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Cost: $7.00

Where:
MABEE CENTER
7777 S LEWIS AVE
TULSA, OK  74171
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Evergreens are often overlooked and under-appreciated in the landscape, yet in the winter months they provide color, form and texture that their deciduous counterparts can’t provide. Take a...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Tulsa Botanic Garden

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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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We are thrilled to announce The Pencil Box's brand new event, Rock Paper Scissors, to be held at the historic Cain's Ballroom on Saturday, January 26, 2019, and we need you there! This event will...

Cost: $150.00

Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918-442-2222
Contact Name: Nancy Bolzle
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Come see ORU Mens Basketball vs North Dakota State!

Cost: $10-$20

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Ave
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: https://mabeecenter.com/event/californiabaptist1819m/
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Mabee Center
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Living Arts of Tulsa is celebrating its 50th anniversary during its signature gala, Champagne & Chocolate. The event features a fashion show and auction and features the work of artist...

Cost: $100

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 E. MB Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: Living Arts of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-585-1234
Contact Name: Jessica Borusky
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TULtalk


2.2: Mending with Gold — Ana Berry

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2.1: The Pivot — Meg Myers Morgan

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Can soothing sounds help the healing process?

Amy Hamilton, a certified sound healing practitioner, offers a monthly SoundScapes class at Zen Body in Tulsa.

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