Fighting Words

Ronnie Turner

Men’s basketball will rebound from growing pains

I’m going to go with the men’s basketball team. The Cougars graduated five seniors from last year’s squad, including four starters and a part-time starter, and given the production that this group gave, they’re not going to be easy to replace.

Guard Robert "Fluff" McKiver was the team’s top scorer in each of the last two seasons, averaging 20.9 and 23.6 points, respectively. Lanny Smith was a fixture at point guard for much of his five-year career at UH. Dion Dowell provided some offense and much-needed shot blocking. Tafari Toney was the closest thing the Cougars had to a big man last season and Marcus Malone was a stopper.

Don’t get me wrong -- the Cougars won’t be bare of talent next season. Kelvin Lewis and DaShaun Williams are two of the best returning offensive players, and recruits Aubrey Coleman and Desmond Wade are expected to be key contributors. With this group, the Cougars should be in contention for an NCAA Tournament at season’s end.

Still, the Cougars might struggle early while trying to replace McKiver’s scoring and Smith’s leadership.

Keith Cordero Jr.

New recruits not enough to make NCAA Tournament

I will have to agree with Ronnie on this one and say that the Cougars men’s basketball team will desperately miss their seniors. The Cougars did not only lose five seniors, but basically five starters, and the addition of only two decent recruits (Coleman and Wade) will severely affect the Cougars’ play.

This is Division-1 college basketball, and talent is the only way you’re going to produce wins, but Conference USA rival Memphis has the nation’s top recruit. C-USA will maybe get two teams into the NCAA’s a year, and Memphis almost always locks one of those spots by running away with the conference title.

Ronnie is way off base though in saying the Cougars will be in contention for a NCAA spot. The only way the Cougars stayed competitive in games last season was due to the ability of McKiver to take over a game, and the team did not even make the NCAA tournament last year with a stacked team. The Cougars will still be a fun team to watch, but you don’t lose your top five players and become contenders and a better team.

Rodney Leonhardt

Cougar basketball needs fairy godmother

The men’s basketball team will have the biggest hole in their roster once the 2008 seniors leave the court and clean out their lockers. As argued, the Cougars lose their two leading scorers in Dowell and McKiver, a one-two punch that puts numbers on the board and fans in the stands. McKiver totaled 801 points last season and recorded a season-high of 52 points against Southern Miss. Dowell followed with 371 points, averaging almost 11 points a game.

Along with their leading scorers, the Cougars lose their leading rebounder in Toney. Toney lead the team with 214 total rebounds, of which 125 were defensive, which proved to be critical for the Cougars this season. Toney also recorded 231 points on the side. Smith and Malone, who combined to score 275 points for the Cougars last year, round up the departing seniors. Their presence and experience, which helped carry the team, will be missed.

Losing five in a program of 13 players is a nice chunk of the team. With relatively young players next season, a NCAA spot is a nice Cinderella goal, but is more wishful thinking.

Judge Dredd

Girl Power

Judge Dredd expected this from relative newbies Rodney and Keith, but Ronnie? Silent Assassin, you disappoint. Judge Dredd has two words for you guys: Angel Shamblin.

The senior ace pitched in 41 of her team’s 65 games this season, had a 0.94 ERA, led the Cougars to their first Super Regional in program history and was arguably one of the best female athletes in the country. She finished the season with a freakin’ 36-5 record. It doesn’t matter that the softball team didn’t lose anyone else. You can’t replace production like that from a pitcher. As for the basketball team, Penders’ teams have never been about offensive production or rebounding. Obviously you guys forgot, but his best squad at UH was the 2005-06 team led by a group of defensive-minded athletes that forced turnovers and pushed it on the other end for easy baskets. That team’s best offensive threat was Oliver Lafayette, who averaged 14.5 points per game, but it didn’t matter because he led the nation in steals per game with 3.4. Penders knows how to recruit. It won’t be too hard for the 2008-09 Cougars to reach 20 to 22 wins.

The winner: Judge Dredd

FACETIME¬™ Judge Dredd kicks so much butt you’ll go blind, which is too bad because you won’t be able to see that second helping of butt whooping coming.

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