Ahead of the curve
Seniority rules is not an adage the UH women’s basketball team has been following recently — a number of freshmen have been playing big for the Cougars earning more playing time and C-USA awards.
Freshman guard Alecia Smith — or LeLe as her teammates call her — has posted 17.5 points per game with a 48 percent shooting average. It was a record she knew was not to be ignored. After receiving the Conference USA Freshman of the Week award on Monday, Smith says she’s driven to do even better.
“[The award] let me know that hard work pays off,” Smith said. “It has given
me that extra motivation to play better.”
Smith has posted double-digit scoring games in her last two contests, including hitting a career high of seven 3-pointers against Tulane making her the 3-point leader among the Cougars with 28 baskets.
Head coach Todd Buchanan said Smith’s work ethic is the secret to her success.
“There are a lot of kids who talk big and want to be the best,” Buchanan said. “Smith puts the work in to be the best,and it’s definitely going to be a good ride with her the next three years.”
Smith is one of several freshmen who have been proving themselves on the court.
Forward Tyler Gilbert is a player who has seen some recent playing time and is able to bring the defense to the court for the Cougars.
“I feel defense is the main aspect I can thrive on,” said Gilbert. “The offense will come around, but as far as defense, that’s the main aspect I’m working on.”
Last week’s C-USA Freshman of the week award winner Marche’ Amerson put up a career high of 20 points in a game last month against Memphis and helped keep last week’s game against SMU close by pitching in several baskets.
Entering their game facing the Pirates of East Carolina, the Cougars will rely on the freshmen to continue to prove themselves on the court. The team will face opponents with a combined record of 64-16 in their last four contests, starting with the ECU game.
Buchanan said he hopes the Cougars’ last two losses will not distract the team come Thursday.
“I want them to show up,” Buchanan said. “[We need to] bring that Houston Women’s basketball passion back. I will be shocked if we don’t show up on Thursday night.”
UH will tip off at 7 p.m. Thursday in Hofheinz Pavillion.