Flashback Friday: Cougars persevere to tournament berth
Basketball season is quickly approaching, and fans are now in the stage of assessing the potential of the team and form expectations or goals for the upcoming year.
The Cougars are coming off a 13-19 season that ended in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals.
With the new additions to the roster, the team should have aspirations of further advancement in the conference tournament as well as an NCAA Tournament berth.
The last time the team played in the NCAA tournament was 2010. We look back at that season to draw parallels to this year’s team.
UH’s 2009-10 basketball team was by no means a model for future teams, but it provided a perfect example to the benefits of perseverance.
The team struggled to string wins together all season under coach Thomas Penders. Their best stretch was just a three-game win streak at the end of the 2009 calendar year.
The team finished the regular season 15-15 and 7-9 in C-USA, finishing seventh place in the conference.
Despite this, they entered their conference tournament with a goal in mind to persevere and used determination to reach feats they hadn’t the entire season.
Following a 93-80 win over the East Carolina University Pirates in the first round, the Cougars beat the University of Memphis Tigers 66-65, ending a string of four tournament titles for the Tigers.
In the next game, they defeated the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 74-66. Finally, the Cougars beat the No. 25 ranked University of Texas-El Paso Miners 81-73 in the Conference-USA Championship game.
That win clinched a bid in the NCAA Tournament, the first for the school since 1992. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 13th seeded Houston was defeated 89-77 by the 4th seeded University of Maryland Terrapins.
Shortly after the loss, Penders resigned from the head coach position after six seasons.
These Cougars were top heavy and relied upon the scoring of their senior backcourt, perhaps to a fault. Aubrey Coleman averaged 26 points and Kelvin Lewis averaged 16 points a game. No other Cougar’s scoring average reached double digits.
UH basketball is seeking a resurgence of the program, and nothing made this more apparent than the hiring of Kelvin Sampson. He has proven himself plenty capable of leading adept teams deep into postseason competition.
Coach Sampson, now in his second year, has the perfect opportunity to direct the program’s ascension into consistent national prominence with a third appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 23 years.