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Monday, January 30, 2023

Men's Basketball

Jamal Shead said his effort must get better defensively


Jamal Shead, one of the leaders for No. 1 UH, believes the Cougars have another step they can take defensively to reach the next step on the ladder. | Anh Le/The Cougar

Jamal Shead, one of the leaders for No. 1 UH, believes the Cougars have another step they can take defensively to reach the next step on the ladder. | Anh Le/The Cougar

Entering Tuesday night, Tulane led the American Athletic Conference with 87.8 points per game in league play. Houston held Tulane to just 60 points but the Cougars’ players weren’t satisfied with their defensive performance.

“They scored 30 below their average, but they also scored 10 above our average,” said UH point guard Jamal Shead.

Shead, who described his primary role as being the one who sets the tone for UH defensively, admits that he has not been playing to the standard he sets for himself nor has he been meeting the expectation that head coach Kelvin Sampson expects from his point guard.  

During UH’s win over USF on Jan. 11, Sampson switched Shead off the Bulls’ leading scorer Tyler Harris in the second half, opting to have Marcus Sasser guard USF’s best player.

After the game, Sampson was blunt when asked why he made the move.

“(Harris) was kicking Jamal’s butt,” Sampson said. “Jamal has guarded very well lately. He’s got to get his swagger back, get his mojo back.”

Shead knows he hasn’t been anywhere near his best defensively and that this must change if UH is to reach its fullest potential.

“It’s more of an effort standpoint, starting with me,” Shead said. “I don’t think I’ve been giving my best effort, especially the past five or six games. My man, my matchup has had their career high. I can’t allow that anymore and I got to do better at the point of attack.”

While UH currently allows the nation’s lowest amount of points per game at 53.3 and rank No. 2 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, Shead believes that defensively the Cougars are nowhere near the level of play they are capable of. The way for the Cougars to climb up another step on the ladder comes by elevating their play on the defensive end of the floor.

“Our next level comes with defense,” Shead said. “I feel like we can do a lot better on defense. We give up a lot of easy baskets and a lot of stuff we’re not used to giving up here.”

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