House, Thomas look to help UH take next step
A single red ramp at Hofheinz Pavilion leads from the locker room to Guy V. Lewis Court. Along the way you pass numerous All-American award winners, NCAA championship appearances and other accolades in UH basketball history which are highlighted on the walls.
The closer you get to the court, the louder the sounds get: basketballs bouncing off the hardwood floor, dunks and swishes, whistles ringing off the empty seats and the voice of head coach James Dickey drilling out commands.
This summer, the Cougars have been working to improve on the disappointments of last year and strengthen their skills as they tread in the new territory that is the American Athletic Conference, where the history books have yet to be filled and reputation will not be a factor.
After averaging 16.9 points last season and shooting 55 percent from the floor, junior forward TaShawn Thomas established himself as one of the top players in Conference USA. Now the 6-foot-8-inch athlete has to prove himself in a new conference.
With junior guard Joseph Young — the Cougars’ leading scorer last season — transferring to Oregon, Thomas understands his role will be expanded.
“I can’t live with the little sophomore mistakes I made last year. I can’t let those happen (any) more,” Thomas said.
This summer Thomas has worked on improving his outside jumper and utilizing his left hand more when competing in the painted area.
“They are going to see more intensity. Last year I felt there were games I took off, where I didn’t play with a lot of intensity,” Thomas said.
Alongside Thomas is reigning C-USA Freshman of the Year Danuel House, the 6-foot-7-inch sophomore forward who had a breakout season last year. He started 27 games and averaged 12.4 points per game.
House expects this upcoming season to shock a lot of people on the defensive end, where the Cougars struggled last season. UH held the No. 317 scoring defense in the nation last season, and the American will be a tougher conference.
However, with the Cougars a step closer to playing in the American, House isn’t afraid of the new competition.
“We’re playing basketball (and) any given night, anyone can win. It’s about who is giving effort and who is playing the hardest,” House said.
“I don’t fear no other team — I know with the talent we have, we can match any team in our new conference.”
Dickey said he has high expectations for the pair.
“They know they are very good players and both of them are coming back with very good honors, but they know it’s a new year and it’s going to be about work ethic,” Dickey said.