Acting under a new rule that allows coaches to supervise summer practices, the Cougar men’s basketball program is embarking on a plan to get more “tough” as a basketball team.
“Overall, I want us to be a tougher basketball team, mentally and physically,” head coach James Dickey said. “(Toughness) is just something we stress everyday. We’ve got some toughness drills that the guys do. We’ve got to be challenged both mentally and physically. We’re mindful of the fact that we’re still quite a ways away from the season, but at the same time, we are trying to set a tone.”
Dickey claims this new physical attitude would supplement UH’s growth by pushing the team to do the little things that matter most.
“We’re working on our defense,” Dickey said. “We want to compliment that with rebounding, and we certainly want to take good care of the ball, not turn the ball over.”
Incoming freshman are perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of more practice time in the summer. The transition from high school to college is a big step. Classes are tougher, basketball practice is harder and there is more competition and responsibility.
Supervised summer practice allows the acclimation process to be smoother and permits for more time to make the transition with less immediate pressure.
UH has two “diaper dandies,” forward Danuel House and center Valentine Izundu, who are participating in summer practice. House is a highly touted five-star player. ESPN ranked him 19th among all players and sixth among small forwards.
House and Izundu are a part of a recruiting class ranked in the top 25 by ESPN (21st), so lofty expectations are sure to trail House during his career at UH. His teammate, sophomore TaShawn Thomas, is impressed with House so far.
“He’s not like me last year,” Thomas said. “He’s not playing timid. He’s talking, trying to step up and play a big role as a freshman.”
Thomas said the incoming freshmen will have a leg up when the season rolls around.
“I see a lot of talent,” Thomas said. “They’re hitting that freshman wall just like I did last year. We just have to keep them moving and get them past that.”
The additional workouts have received major applause from players and coaches across the country. Locally, the sentiment is no different.
“Now that we have these two-hours-a-week workouts, I know it’s going to help us out a lot,” Thomas said. “I know if I’d had that, it would have helped me out a lot last year.”