Young team a ‘double-edged sword’
With basketball practice heating up, UH’s young nucleus is concentrating on forming trust in one another.
After going 13-17 in 2012, a 10-game improvement over the previous season, UH hopes its young players develop into consistent playmakers.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword with us. We only have five seniors, then one junior and everybody else is a freshman or sophomore. Although we’ve had a lot of experience from those players from a year ago, we’re still relatively young,” said head coach Todd Buchanan.
Forming team chemistry is one of the most important things for success, and this task will be challenging with the loss of a legendary guard, Porsche Landry. Landry ended her eligibility as the only player in program history with at least 1,200 career points and 400 career assists. She also holds the UH all-time career record in assists (483) and starts (121).
Replacing Landry’s points, leadership and playmaking ability will be a collaborative effort, Buchanan said.
“I don’t know if you could ever replace as great a player as Porsche Landry, but that’s why we recruited (junior guard) Demetria Foreman; obviously, (guard) Alecia Smith comes back for her sophomore year campaign, and (sophomore guard) Bianca Winslow. Those three certainly through commitment will have to replace everything Porsche did, from a statistic standpoint especially,” Buchanan said.
How the various talents complement each other is a key focus in practice. Having great cohesiveness is a quality that the team is constantly working toward. Individual egos have not been an issue when it comes to this ball club, the team said.
“Our team chemistry has grown a lot from last year. I don’t think we’re necessarily where we need to be, but it’s good to have improvement. And I see lots of positive changes in a lot of our teammates,” said sophomore forward Marche Amerson.
But the team’s primary focus is its communication on defense — an area where the Cougars struggled last season. UH was 11th in Conference USA in scoring defense, giving up 65 points per game. The players acknowledge this issue and are ready to continue working. They realize that to improve, this has to be a collective effort.
“What’s different about this team from last year is that everybody can score, but we can improve on communicating on defense, which is our main concern because (since we’re in) a new conference, we’re going to have to score off our defense,” said sophomore guard Alecia Smith.
Entering the American Athletic Conference, the team knows this has to be a collective effort with tougher competition. This season, the Cougars will face defending champion Connecticut twice.
“I think our kids are first-class individuals. They’ve been working hard in the classroom, hard in the weight room and certainly hard on the basketball court as well,” Buchanan said.