Cougars and Owls Finish Very Disappointing Basketball Seasons
March Madness begins on Tuesday and gets into full swing on Thursday. And for the first time in probably forever (technically since 1977), not one single Texas college was invited to play in the NCAA Tournament. No UT. No A&M. No Baylor. No Rice, UH, Sam Houston State or SFA.
The CBI? When is somebody going to go dancing?
Not one. But not all hope is lost. There are several other postseason tournaments, and the Cougars and Longhorns will be facing each off Wednesday night at Hofheinz Pavilion in the opening round of the CBI.
But in essence, as far as the state of Texas is concerned, college basketball is over. So let's take a quick look at the seasons for UH and Rice and see what was learned.
HOUSTON COUGARS (19-12)
5. IMPROVEMENT ON SURFACE
The Cougars finished 19-12, and are hosting the Longhorns on Wednesday night in the opening round of the CBI Tournament. But while that's a nice-looking record, it's kind of deceptive. This UH team had difficulty getting into a groove the entire season, and the Cougars really struggled once Conference USA play started, and no school that claims to be good at basketball should struggle in C-USA play. The Cougars played a weak out-of-conference schedule that helped to build up the win count, and they were the only team in C-USA play to lose to the Owls.
4. LACK OF CONSISTENCY
The Cougars would look fantastic for one half, then would fall apart in the second half. Or it would be the reverse. One night the team would come back from a huge second-half deficit to pull out the victory; the next game, the Coogs would blow a large double-digit lead held late in the second half and lose the game.
3. LOTS OF TALENT
The Cougars are a talented team. Forward TaShawn Thomas was named first team C-USA. Guard Joseph Young made the third team, and Danuel House was named the Conference Freshman of the Year. But all of the pieces never quite seemed to click, and the Cougars struggled throughout the season. Yet it's a young team, with everybody still learning roles, and there should be another influx of good talent joining the team next season.
2. NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME
The Cougars didn't seem to handle pressure well, as in pressure from playing college basketball, and as in difficulties with handling pressure defenses. And the team often struggled against inferior competition, so it's probably a good thing that the Big East, where the Cougars are playing next season, is not only losing its name but is also becoming C-USA 2.0 as most of the basketball schools that have made the Big East the Big East are departing the Big East as it now exists for new conferences.
1. DOES ANYBODY CARE?
If Tom Penders was still coaching the Cougars and they were going to the CBI yet again, there would be a loud uproar from the UH fan base. But the basic uptake this season is that it's nice the Cougars will be able to host an awful Texas team in the CBI. Attendance is down, and Hofheinz can be a very quiet building with the very few people who show up. So that leaves the basic question: Does anybody really care what happens to the UH basketball team, and no, I'm not talking about the uproar that happens whenever Guy V. Lewis and the Basketball Hall of Fame are mentioned.