UH’s progress has them ready for tough schedule
Head coach Todd Buchanan has lofty hopes and views that the progress of his team as ahead of where it was last year.
Because the coaches were able to work and practice with the athletes for two months during the summer, there was more time to perfect technique. By way of preparation, the Cougars have had close to 20 practices and one scrimmage. The scrimmage brought to light what Buchanan’s players need to improve.
Not only does the new conference bring new competition, it also brings rule changes. Importantly, the coach and his players have learned the new standards for officiating.
“Our game has completely changed as far as contact, lack of contact … we’ve got a lot of work to do in that phase of changing and adjusting,” Buchanan said.
The aim is to have a less physical game with higher scoring. The alterations to the game include backing up the 3-point line and changing to a 10-second back court violation from an 8-second one. Buchanan said he is confident that his defense’s “pressing and trapping” style will play to the team’s advantage.
The American Athletic Conference is arguably the toughest in the nation, but Buchanan said his team’s experience will keep it competitive.
“We have a very solid foundation and a lot of experience and scoring coming back, with only the loss of Porsche Landry. Obviously that’s a huge piece of the puzzle to lose,” he said.
Despite the loss of Landry, Buchanan said he is optimistic about the new season. The team will present leadership with five returning seniors and with the sophomores as well.
Sophomore guard Alecia Smith was a threat from beyond the arc, as she led the team in 3-point field goals made. Buchanan said Smith will lead as point guard. Smith was also honored as Conference USA Freshman of the Week.
Sophomore Marche’ Amerson is also returning. Last year, she was named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team. Amerson was ranked second on the team with 9.1 points per game and also set a Cougar freshman record by starting all 30 games.
Amerson said her confidence will be one of the biggest aids to her success.
“I felt like I lacked a lot of confidence last year, and my teammates and coaches have helped me to understand to be the player that I can be,” Amerson said. “I’m trying to use that to fuel the fire going forward and also be a leader and help my teammates get through difficult situations.”
Amerson said she plans to make this season a stronger one than last because she now has a full year under her belt.
“We’ve gotten past those learning steps. Our communication has grown, our team chemistry has grown a lot and I feel that’s going to be a great positive going into the season,” Amerson said.