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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Men's Basketball

UH focus vs. Lamar will be attitude, effort, Kelvin Sampson says

UH guard Quentin Grimes releases a shot with a defender's hand right in his face during a 2019 exhibition game against Angelo State at Fertitta Center. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

UH guard Quentin Grimes releases a shot with a defender’s hand right in his face during a 2019 exhibition game against Angelo State at Fertitta Center. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The Houston men’s basketball program will open up its 2020-21 regular season against Lamar on Wednesday afternoon at Fertitta Center.

With the season starting a few weeks later than it normally does, UH head coach Kelvin Sampson is looking forward to finally seeing his team go up against different competition.

“We are ready to play,” Sampson told reporters via a Zoom video call on Tuesday morning. “We don’t need 30 more practices. We need to play a game.”

As UH enters the new season ranked in both the AP Poll and USA Today’s Coaches Poll, it will have plenty of expectations to start off strong right out the gates, but Sampson knows that the team he sees on the court Wednesday will not be the same one once March rolls around.

“We got a lot of new guys,” Sampson said. “Guys you lose and the guys you replace them with, there is a huge gap in terms of being ready to win a game.”

The head coach compared it to running an out of bounds play. All players can run to the spots they’re told to go with no real purpose, Sampson said, but it is different from when student-athletes can execute and understand the play on its own and look to score.

“I don’t overreact to wins, and I certainly don’t overreact to losses in November cause I know you’re going to be a lot better in January and February,” Sampson said.

Against the Cardinals, who went 16-16 overall and 10-10 in the Southland Conference a season ago, Sampson will be looking for one main thing from his players, particularly his younger ones—their attitude and effort.

“There are going to be guys sitting on the bench tomorrow night, for the first time in their life, they’re not going to be in the game,” Sampson said. “They probably won’t play the minutes they want, so attitude is important. When you play on a good team, you give up a lot of individual rights.”

As for the head coach himself heading into the game, he said he is more curious than anxious when it comes to what the Cougars will look like against the Cardinals.

Sampson emphasized that he has never seen the new additions Reggie Chaney, Tramon Mark, Jamal Shead, J’Wan Roberts, Cameron Tyson, Kiyron Powell — play in a game before, and he is looking forward to look at what they can bring to the table outside of practice.

“Just play hard man,” Sampson said. “The ultimate goal is to win the game. It’s not to look pretty or impress other people. … I don’t care who is on the team, we still play Cougar basketball.”

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