SMU, Brown orchestrate Texas-sized turnaround
SMU head coach Larry Brown has revamped his team in his second year in charge, but he is used to quick turnarounds for dormant teams and programs. After a 5-11 finish in Conference USA play, Brown’s Mustangs are in third place in the American Athletic Conference.
Brown, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, has coached greats in the NBA and NCAA and is the only coach to win championships in both programs.
Much like his games with great NBA point guards Chancey Billups and Allen Iverson, his floor general led the Mustangs to a win on Sunday afternoon at Hofheinz Pavilion. SMU point guard Nic Moore scored 22 second-half points, allowing the Mustangs to pull away during the last few possessions and come away with a 75-68 win. SMU (16-4, 5-2) increased its winning streak to five games.
Brown said he expects the match-up, which brought out UH’s largest home crowd of the season, has the potential to be a competitive in-state rivalry.
“I hope so. I just don’t enjoy playing against their coach; he’s one of the class people in our profession. I look at (the Cougars’) roster, and they have a lot of young kids coming back, like their transfer point guard (L.J. Rose) who knows how to play and make people better,” Brown said. “With a 10-team league I think there’s going to be some terrific rivalries.”
Brown said he believes his ball club has a chance to compete for a national title.
“Here in the American conference, you have a chance with all the terrific coaches and players here,” Brown said. “We’ve just got to get our share and coach them up.”
SMU’s success has been vouched for by their stingy defense and good decision-making on the offensive end, ranking 15th nationally with a 49 percent field goal percentage.
“He’s an outstanding coach, obviously a Hall of Famer, and I have a lot of respect for Coach Brown. He has done a terrific job with that team defensively,” said UH head coach James Dickey.
SMU is ranked 13th in the nation in points allowed with 60.4 and rank 28th in rebounds, snatching 27.1 per game.
The aspect he wants his team to focus on is winning conference games on the road. SMU is undefeated at home (10-0), but 4-3 on the road.
“We haven’t accomplished anything yet until you start winning road games in a conference,” Brown said.