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Monday, September 25, 2023

Men's Basketball

Hall of Fame coach’s words fall on deaf ears

People need to hear encouraging words when they are going through rough stretches. That’s exactly what head coach James Dickey did as the Cougars lost their third consecutive game, and had their record slide under .500 for the first time this season.

Dickey summoned his mentor Eddie Sutton to give his team a pep talk. If anyone would be qualified to fire up a group of young basketball players it would be someone who took four different schools to the Final Four, and won more than 800 games as a head coach.

He preached about things like sacrificing for teammates, and his three D’s to win—dedication, defense and discipline.

UH responded to that rally cry with a 72-48 loss to Tulsa at the Reynolds Center on Saturday.

Through one half, the Cougars played the Golden Hurricane closely and went into halftime down four points. Then they were out-scored 46-26 in the second half, en route to losing their fourth straight game and dropping to 3-8 in Conference USA.

The Cougars have won and lost in every way imaginable. They have had six games that were decided by three or less points, and have won just two of those. UH has had a few decisive, double-digit victories, but it has received more lopsided losses than it has given.

UH opened the new year with an overtime win against Tulsa on Jan. 4 at Hofheinz Pavilion, winning by a point. The rematch ended up being a far cry from that effort, as the Golden Hurricane won by 24 on Saturday to deal UH it’s second four-game losing streak of the season.

Not even the sage advice of Eddie Sutton could help UH get a win against a team it had already beat.

Things were supposed to be different this year. Before the season started, players were saying not to compare the 2011-2012 roster to last season’s group. They were saying “don’t sleep on us.”

But that’s exactly what’s happening. UH is near the bottom of the conference standings, and will need a miraculous run in the C-USA tournament for any chance at postseason play.

There are plenty of differences between last year’s edition of the Cougars and this year’s version. However, they share some similarities — the most important being that there is something missing.

Dickey has suggested his team lacks the grit to win, or perhaps it is the thin rotation due to a rash injuries.

It is too early to dismiss this season as a lost campaign, but it is easy to begin speculating about next year. Perhaps more experience at the college level will make current players mature, and maybe some prized recruits will make a difference.

But until the Cougars show progress on the hardwood, this program is in a perpetual state of wondering about the possibilities of next season because of the shortcomings of the current season.

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