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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Men's Basketball

Jamal Shead finds redemption against Wichita State


UH point guard Jamal Shead scored 13 points, dished out nine assists and pulled down seven boards in the Cougars win over Wichita State on Sunday. | Courtesy of Mia Hennen / The Sunflower

UH point guard Jamal Shead scored 13 points, dished out nine assists and pulled down seven boards in the Cougars win over Wichita State on Sunday. | Courtesy of Mia Hennen / The Sunflower

With 5.7 seconds on the clock, Jamal Shead pulled down the rebound off a Johnny Davis miss, dribbled the length of the court and delivered a perfect pass to Kyler Edwards, who was standing just a few feet to the right of the basket.

What would have been the easiest layup of Edwards’ life to send Houston and Wisconsin into overtime in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational in November, never actually happened because by the time the ball left Shead’s hand’s the backboard lit up red, signifying the clock had hit triple zeros.

Shead held his hands above his head, angry at himself for his poor time management.

“It was a hard failure for me because we wanted to win the game and not knowing time, that’s a point guard’s thing,” Shead said. “You’re supposed to know every second of every game.”

But as the saying goes, failure is often the greatest teacher — and this rang true for Shead.

Sampson knew that Shead’s mishap against Wisconsin was a tough, but necessary experience in or order for the sophomore point guard to grow.

“That failure he had against Wisconsin was good for him because it’s usually the first step on the ladder to success,” Sampson said. 

Once the Cougars arrived back in Houston after the Maui Invitational, Kelvin Sampson worked on various situations, always putting five seconds on the clock, just to get a feel for what Shead was capable of doing with little time left.

“When we got back to Houston, we went through that and we kept putting five seconds on the clock, five seconds on the clock, five seconds on the clock so that (Shead) could get a feel for how much he can do (with that much time) and not have to rush it,” Sampson said.“One time we had him go down (the court) as fast as he can and shoot a layup. We realized that took about three point something seconds. Another time, we put a couple people on the court and he had to maneuver around them and we saw how long that took.”

Shead said this really helped in and he gained more and more confidence that he would succeed the next time he found himself with the ball in his hands with the game on the line and little time left.

Three months later, Shead found himself in a near-identical situation.

Wichita State’s Craig Porter Jr. had just hit a stepback 3 to tie the game at 74 in double overtime. With 5.4 seconds remaining, there was never a doubt in Sampson’s mind that the ball would be in Shead’s hands.

“When they made that tying three, there was only one person who was going to get the ball and that was Jamal,” Sampson said. “Just go make a play. You don’t draw plays up. You just put them in the right spots and let them go make a play.”

Even with playing all but 29 seconds of the game’s 50 minutes, Shead was in total control of the situation, knowing exactly what he needed to do and how much time he needed because of the countless hours of work he put in for this kind of situation.

“(Since Wisconsin) we’ve been over those situations plenty of times,” Shead said. “It was the perfect situation. We always put five seconds (on the clock) and there was five seconds left in the game.”

Shead took the inbounds pass and once again dribbled nearly the entire length of the floor. This time the result was different though as Shead got the ball out of his hands with 2.8 seconds left to a wide-open J’Wan Roberts, who threw down the game-winning two-handed slam to lift the Cougars over the Shockers.

Instead of his hands held over his heads, this time pure jubilation filled the faces of Shead’s face.

It was a redemption moment for Shead.

“(It showed Shead’s) growth,” Roberts said about the way Shead handled the game-winning play against the Shockers. “Me and Jamal talked about it last year that at one point he was going to be the man on the team. (He) just had to be ready for it.”

That moment came on Sunday night and Shead was more than prepared for it.

“(Shead) made that play,” Sampson said. “Give him all the credit.”

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