When the final buzzer sounded Nov. 27 at the William Nicks Center in Prairie View, the Cougars tasted defeat for the first time this season. Highly touted freshman forward Danuel House put up a stat line reminiscent of his days at Hightower High School, scoring 20 points on 7-10 shooting.
Although it was a bittersweet loss, House said it kept him driven for the next game.
“It was a confidence booster, and then it was just tough to focus on the next game,” House said. “Anybody can score on this level, but to try to come out and compete the next night and try not to think about the loss the previous night — it’s hard for some people, but for me, I just have to try and embrace it and just went on about it.”
The next game was another loss, though. The Cougars fell Saturday to Texas A&M, where House’s stat line resembled more the first five games of the season – 10 points on 2-6 shooting. However, House played a season-high of 35 minutes, whereas he was averaging about 20 minutes per game previously. This was a vote of confidence from head coach James Dickey, who likes what he has seen so far from the freshman.
“I think he’s making very good progress. Obviously, there’s an adjustment period for freshmen coming into college. Defensively, the physicality, the work load is more than at the high school level, generally. But no doubt he’s done a very good job for us,” Dickey said.
“I’ve certainly been impressed with him being aggressive — he’s got to the free-throw line more than anyone on our team, and he’s a better free-throw shooter than his numbers would indicate. He certainly understands the commitment level you have to have to be the type of player he wants to be and the type of player we expect him to be.”
- House plays aggressively on the court but has learned to show mental discipline. The biggest adjustment to his game upon arriving here was to slow things down, House said. He played in an up-tempo style of game at Hightower but has had to develop patience in order to play in Dickey’s system. It is this mentality that he has also imparted on his teammates, like sophomore forward TaShawn Thomas.
“He helps me keep my head,” Thomas said. “Somewhere this year I caught a temper — a very short temper — and whenever I get angry, he’ll come to me and to talk to me. ‘Keep your head, keep your head.’ That helped me out a lot.”
Thomas and redshirt freshman guard Jherrod Stiggers both reached out to House when he arrived at UH. Being a freshman last year and playing all 31 games, Thomas said he knew where House was coming from and wanted to help him any way he could. This kind of support has helped House adjust and bond with his teammates.
Despite all he has accomplished so far, though, House still has far to go to meet his goal of winning a conference title and playing in the NCAA Tournament. Dickey has faith House will be successful.
“We still have very high expectations of him,” Dickey said. “His free-throw shooting and three-point shooting percentages — those are going to come up. His commitment level to defense he understands and also that there’s a physicality at this level that you play with and adjust to.”