Round-table discussion: Staff predicts incline, decline of Cougar sports
This week we continue part two of our round table discussion as we weigh-in on what we’re looking forward to, which teams we predict will be making improvements and which teams will be taking a step backward.
1.What sport, outside of football, are you looking forward to most next year?
Assistant sports editor Efren Diosdado: I want to see the improvement Kelvin Sampson can make in his second year here. Although Cougar basketball had an overall losing record, the team had a winning record at home and a couple quality of wins that gave us a peek at what they’re capable of doing on a good night.
Staff writer Michael Calderon: Year one may have been a bumpy road for the men’s basketball team, but the ground work for a successful turnaround was laid. Though the team finished the season 13-19, they showed promise near the end. They ended with a 3-0 run in their last games of the season, all against conference rivals, and showed well in the playoffs despite losing to the 22-9 Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in the second round.
Staff writer Francisco Casillas: Outside of football, I am looking forward to see the opening season for Cougar baseball. After having read the prospects the scouting staff recruited throughout the season, I am eager to see the pitching staff, especially Tanner Lawson who pitched a perfect game in his freshman year and a no hitter in his sophomore year. Seeing Lawson and lefty Seth Romero will be a treat.
2.How much improvement do you see the basketball team making with an additional year of learning and practice under Kelvin Sampson?
ED: I think the basketball team will improve to a winning season with less than 10 losses next season. With freshmen point guard Galen Robinson Jr. committing to UH and the addition of Purdue transfer Ronnie Johnson and former Oregon player Damyean Dotson, I expect the team to be exceptional.
FC: Men’s basketball seemed to have promise this year but it still looks to be in a reconstructive state. However, I am still curious as to what he is able to bring to the table due to spending five years in the NBA and winning the Big 12 tournament in 2001, 2002 and 2003 with a 17-7 record.
3.Which team do you see taking the biggest step in the right direction next year?
MC: Football is king in Texas, and the Cougar football program is making strides towards challenging the big dogs like the University of Texas and Texas A&M for the best in Texas at the collegiate level. The big-name additions to the coaching staff and a new, state-of-the-art stadium should help persuade some of the local high school talent to stay home and push UH to the next level.
FC: While promising prospects are coming to the University for Todd Whitting’s baseball squad, I would say that the Cougars’ football team is the team that’s on the right path. Sure, this season will be the debut of Tom Herman after having won the National Championship with Ohio State, but that shows his system must work and it was proven with a victory in the end.
4.Conversely, which team do you see taking the biggest step in the wrong direction next year?
ED: It will be difficult for women’s tennis to repeat the success they had this spring with head coach Patrick Sullivan not renewing his contract with UH and Elena Kordolaimi graduating. Sullivan led Houston to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1998 and third in school history, as well as its highest national ranking in school history.
MC: Headed into the coming season, the women’s volleyball team will be without several key players from last year’s squad, including AAC First Team All-Conference player Kadi Kullerkann and team captain Natalie Keck. Both players left their mark on the program, with Keck finishing her career with 2106 digs and Kullerkann closing with 1047 kills during her time as a Cougar.