Men's Basketball

Rose returns with tenacity and commitment

After losing three on their last four games, the Cougars got back to winning against the Braves on Monday. | Caitlin Hilton/The Daily Cougar

Junior point guard L.J. Rose made his long-awaited return to action with the Cougars over the holiday break. Rose fractured his foot while playing on the Bahamas national team this past summer.

Houston fans had much to be excited about.

The Cougars had a new coach and were looking to embark upon a new era, but for the start of the 2014-2015 season, they would be without the presence of junior starting point guard L.J. Rose.

Rose injured his foot last summer while he was a member of the Bahamas national team in the opening game of July’s Caribbean Basketball Championships in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. After being out four months, Rose was only one week away from being cleared when he experienced a refracture, landing himself in a boot for nearly seven months.

Although disappointed, Rose was no stranger to this type of injury. He says he immediately knew that he had to get back up and do the best he could, so that he could help his teammates whenever was cleared to play again, and that he has no reservations going into the season.

“There’s not really a fear for me going forward,” Rose said. “Sometimes when I want to make a move or play a certain way, I kind of second guess myself, so these games and practices are good for me because I get more experience under my belt. If Coach (Kelvin) Sampson would let me go there and play again like he allowed me to do this past summer, I would definitely still do it.”

While out, Rose said he tried to do the best he could to stay in shape by eating well, but he hadn’t been able to do much else to prepare himself for his return due to the walking boot.

The Cougars got an early Christmas gift.

Rose was cleared to play against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on December 17 and played 30 minutes, totaling four rebounds, four assists and a steal in his return to action.

“I felt good and I am feeling better each and every day, but I have to keep on working,” Rose said. “I’m still trying to get through some growing pains, but other than that I am glad to be back out there.”

Finally able to rejoin his team, Rose quickly realized he’d be playing alongside new faces after the departure of several teammates, including All-Conference forward TaShawn Thomas and Danuel House, one of the team’s leading scorers. For Rose, however, the hiring of Kelvin Sampson made the process easier.

“Those two are great players and teammates,” Rose said. “I just feel with Coach Sampson coming in, he would definitely give us a good opportunity to win because he is a no-nonsense guy and he demands a lot from everyone whether you are a player or a trainer. I feel like that would still give us a chance to win.”

Although he led the Cougars and the American Athletic Conference, as well as finishing No. 29 nationally with 5.5 assists per game last season, Rose admits that he sometimes feels as though he isn’t as hyped as other college point guards.

“That’s just part of the game,” he said. “I have to do something for our team to win. We haven’t been winning and that’s on me, so the next few games are really key for us. They could really be a stepping stone for all of us as individuals and also as a team.”

His focus is on team goals, but Rose understands that this season and the next are both critical for him. With Sampson’s guidance, Rose is set out to better himself and those beside him.

“Coach Sampson tells us almost every day that what we are doing right now is critical,” Rose said. “He tells me things I need to do to become a better leader and a better point guard. I work on them daily so that this year and next year my team can win. That’s the ultimate goal as point guard – to make your teammates better and win.”

Since high school, Rose has gone through five different coaches, four different schools, many changes in teammates and an injury that has hindered him from being able to showcase his talent as much as he wants to. Throughout it all one thing has remained true: Rose has tenacity and is committed to becoming better than he was yesterday.

“It has been a long road and a lot has happened. My path has helped me grow a lot in the past three years, and I believe that ultimately it’ll help me in the long run. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

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