Round table: Cougars’ season a success in more way than one
With the season winding down for the men’s basketball team, The Cougar’s sports staff takes a look at the year-in-review and expectations moving forward for head coach Kelvin Sampson and UH.
With the regular season for men’s basketball over, how did the team play compared to your expectations?
Staff writer Reagan Earnst: The men’s basketball team exceeded my expectations this season. Coming off of a season in which it went just 13-19, and the team not having a highly touted recruiting class, I admittedly did not have high expectations for their season. However, it played tough opponents tight and showed real grit down the stretch of its season.
Sports editor Bryce Dodds: I’d say it exceeded my expectations. I expected improvement this year, but not to the degree it showed this season. I thought its ceiling was going to be around 17 wins this year, but Sampson has done a great job with the team this season.
Who was the team’s MVP this season?
Staff writer Jonathan Valadez: I’m going to stay with my midseason MVP: Damyean Dotson. He finished the season with 13.9 PPG and led the team with 6.9 RPG. Devonta Pollard is a close second though. He had a strong second half to the season.
RE: The MVP of the team in my eyes is Devonta Pollard. The senior big-man played in every game this season and led the team in rebounds. Pollard was efficient on the offensive end of the floor as he ended the season as the second leading scorer on team. In the absence of star PG Rob Gray Jr., Pollard showed up in a big way to help keep his team’s post-season hopes alive.
How deep do you think the Cougars can go in the AAC tournament?
JV: It’s hard to say. There is a chance that they will play the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, whom they have struggled against, in the second round. I think they will have an easier chance at advancing if they play any of the other teams ahead of them. I’m going to say that they will make it to the semifinals.
RE: Nothing is stopping the Cougars from making a run in the AAC tournament. With the Southern Methodist University Mustangs not making the trip to Orlando due to NCAA sanctions, the field is wide open. The Cougars have shown that they can beat anyone in their conference, and Sampson will surely have his guys focused and ready to go come next week.
Do you think this year is indicative of how the program will fare from now on?
RE: Although this season may not be a sure sign of future success, it is surely a step in the right direction. With a more experienced team returning next year, the future looks bright for the basketball program. With a complete makeover of Hofheinz Pavilion in the works and a team that looks to be dominant moving forward, it appears that the city of Houston may finally have a reason to care about college basketball once again.
BD: I think that Sampson definitely has the team going the right direction. This was expected to be a rebuilding project from the beginning, but it has come around much quicker than I would have thought, and I think that will continue. If the team can get a good recruiting class in the offseason, it can reasonably make a good run at a conference title.