Basketball squad preps for next test
The Cougars are hoping to once again become nationally relevant with their fast-paced style that put the University on the basketball map in the 1980s.
Last year, UH was among the top 10 in the country in scoring overall, averaging 78.1 points per game while adding sophomore point guard L.J. Rose and freshman forward Danrad Knowles into the mix.
“We have really good complementary skill players, so we’ll be an exciting basketball team, and we have returned quite a few of those guys (from last season),” said associate coach Alvin Brooks.
The Cougars finished last season with a 20-13 record and made it to the postseason for the first time since 2011, competing in the College Basketball Invitational and making it to the quarterfinals.
Three starters will also be returning for the Cougars’ 2013-14 campaign: junior forward TaShawn Thomas, sophomore forward Danuel House and senior forward Tione Womack.
The Cougars will have to replace the perimeter points of leading scorer junior guard Joseph Young, who transferred to Oregon this offseason, and the senior leadership provided by Leon Gibson.
More will be expected from Thomas, who averaged 16.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game and was named All-Conference USA First Team and Conference USA All-Defensive Team, and House, who is coming off a year that gained him C-USA Freshman of the Year, averaging 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
“We have a lot of returners, and our newcomers are learning quickly. We’re not taking any steps back, only steps forward,” said junior forward Mikhail McLean.
Among those newcomers is Rose, who is familiar to McLean. They’re not only both from the Bahamas, but they played basketball together at Second Baptist High School for three years.
Rose transferred from Baylor University and is hoping to be a leader at the point guard position.
“I’m going to bring leadership, my will to win, and just help make my teammates better by being more of a vocal leader,” Rose said.
McLean and Rose’s chemistry together on the court hasn’t faded.
“I’ve known him since like the sixth grade, and we’re kind of just like family now,” McLean said.
Now in the American Athletic Conference, UH is set to play powerhouses such as Memphis, Connecticut and national champion Louisville. All of the Cougars’ AAC games will be nationally televised; therefore, all aspects of their game have to be on point.
The Cougars have been concentrating on becoming a much better defensive team. This is the area they’ve been focusing on the most in practice recently, but their chemistry has never been better, Brooks said.
“The team’s chemistry is really good. You can always tell early on how guys complement each other, whether they are playing well together or not,” Brooks said. “This has been the best chemistry we’ve had so far on the team since we’ve been here.”