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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Men's Basketball

Dickey and Co. aim to revive program

Men’s basketball head coach James Dickey rounded out his coaching staff this week and said his No. 1 priority is to return the program to national prominence. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

The finishing touches to James Dickey’s men’s basketball coaching staff were made Monday with the announcement that former head coach Alvin Brooks will return as an associate coach.

Daniyal Robinson and Ulric Maligi signed last weekend, and now this new chapter in Cougar basketball may officially commence. Dickey said he compiled a staff that is a mix of experience, youth and enthusiasm.

All four coaches share a vision to return the UH basketball program to national prominence. Brooks, whose last worked as director of basketball operations at Kentucky, said the immediate goal of the program is to play in meaningful games in March.

“The vision is getting Houston back to the top of college basketball,” Brooks said. “It starts with taking care of the players we have very well and then recruiting, starting in the greater Houston area.”

Maligi, 25, coached the last three seasons at Stephen F. Austin and said coming to UH would be a positive step for him because he believes the Cougars will build upon the previous season’s success.

“We all feel like we can big at the University of Houston,” Maligi said. “We really believe in coach Dickey. We like and trust him.”

The Cougars have three scholarships available and Dickey said he will focus on bringing in the best players, regardless of age or experience, when the recruiting period begins later this month. Whoever comes to UH will have to adapt to Dickey’s philosophy of quick-paced offense and man-to-man defense,

“We want to play man defense and certainly want to play up-tempo. We want to run,” Dickey said. “But our guys know also that we’re going to execute in the half court. We would like to utilize the 3-point line. We hope to play a very exciting style.”

Recruiting remains a hot topic for the program, with the most common point of contention revolving on the perceived lack of interest in local talent. Robinson served as an assistant at Iowa State from 2008-10 and is known for his ability to land higher-profile players.

“Recruiting is about relationships,” Robinson said. “I’ve been fortunate to build relationships pretty quickly in the past. I look forward to doing the same here in Houston and the state of Texas.”

After last season’s NCAA Tournament appearance, Robinson said the coaches must build on that momentum to create an atmosphere beneficial to the team.

“We want to continue to create a positive culture and positive environment,” Robinson said. “I can’t put a number on the wins and losses, but I think we’ll have success according to the type of culture we create.”

The new staff has already begun their work preparing for another tournament run, and Maligi said he hopes this group of coaches elevates the program to greater heights.

“The immediate goal is to win and help take the Cougar nation to the next level,” Maligi said.

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