Houston Cougars Basketball
Houston is a large city in Texas, and the University of Houston Cougars basketball program has been around for a long time. They have a rich history, with many standout players who have played in the NBA.
The Cougars have a strong tradition of making it to the Final Four, having gone to the tournament six times in the past. This could be a good storyline for the team this season.
Origins Houston Cougars Basketball
Before Hakeem Olajuwon, Phi Slama Jama, and Elvin Hayes played their part in popularizing college basketball, Houston’s men’s basketball program had been in existence since 1945-46 under the leadership of Alden Pasche. The Cougars won a pair of Lone Star Conference regular-season titles and qualified for postseason play in the NAIA tournament in 1946 and 1947.
In 1956, the University of Houston hired Guy Lewis to lead the program as a head coach. He coached the Cougars to 27 straight winning seasons and 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament. His UH teams made the Final Four on five occasions (1967, 1968, 1982-84) and twice advanced to the NCAA Championship Game.
During his tenure, Lewis led the Cougars to two historic victories against undefeated and top-ranked UCLA in front of more than 50,000 fans in the Astrodome. This game was the first nationally-televised college basketball game, which helped to popularize the sport as a spectator sport throughout the country.
Additionally, Lewis’s teams gained notoriety for their fast-breaking, “above the rim” style of play. This style became highly fashionable among young people, and it contributed to the overall popularity of basketball.
Lewis’s Houston teams also drew great attention for their entertaining, spirited play. He had a strong recruiting record and developed outstanding players who went on to professional careers in the NBA.
Some of these stars include Clyde Drexler, Otis Birdsong, Dwight Jones, Don Chaney and “Sweet” Lou Dunbar. They were all instrumental in the rise of the ‘dunking’ movement and helped to popularize basketball as an up-tempo sport.
In recent years, the Cougars have been led by the renowned head coach Kelvin Sampson. He has revitalized the program, and has pushed the team to a whole new level of success in college basketball.
The Cougars have been in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament each of the last six seasons. They are favored to make it again in 2023.
As they continue to build momentum in the American Athletic Conference, the Houston Cougars are primed for a deep run in the national championship tournament. In fact, they are one of five teams in the field this year that is ranked in KenPom’s offensive and defensive efficiency rankings.
History Houston Cougars Basketball
The Houston Cougars men’s basketball team has a rich history. Its storied past includes iconic rivalries, key players and memorable moments. In fact, the University of Houston’s men’s basketball program is one of the deepest in college sports.
The team has made it to the NCAA Final Four ten times, a feat that is tied for the tenth most in the nation. The program’s roots date back to 1945, when Alden Pasche became the school’s first head coach.
His teams, known as “Phi Slama Jama,” gained a lot of notoriety for their fast-breaking, “above the rim” style of play and overall success. The 1968 game against UCLA at the Astrodome, which featured Elvin Hayes and Clyde Drexler, was considered the “Game of the Century” and helped popularize college basketball as a spectator sport.
Lewis, who led the team to two Final Fours and a national championship in 1983, was named the coach of the year by the American Basketball Coaches Association in 1986. His career record is 592-279, ranking him 20th on the all-time list of winning coaches for Division I.
Sampson, who began his coaching career with the Indiana Pacers and has won AAC Coach of the Year awards in both 2018 and 2019, is the driving force behind Houston’s recent surge. He has transformed the program from a relative loser to one of the top programs in The American and the country.
Amid all the highs and lows of the last few years, Sampson has always believed in his team’s potential. That belief was proven last season when they took down top-seeded Arizona in the Elite Eight.
The Cougars have a lot of momentum going into this season, especially with Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark back in the fold. Both of these players were integral parts of the Cougars’ run to the Final Four a year ago.
It’s been a long time since Houston has won an NCAA championship, but this season is promising for the future of the program. With a strong core of returning starters, including three in double-figures per game, the team is ready to put it all together and cut down the nets in April.
The Houston Cougars basketball team is currently a member of the American Athletic Conference. They are coached by Kelvin Sampson and play their home games at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston, Texas. The team competes in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball competition.
In the current season, the Houston Cougars are ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches polls. They are led by American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Marcus Sasser, who is averaging 17.1 points and 3.2 assists per game. He is also a top prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft.
Other players that are key to the success of the Houston Cougars include Landon Goesling, Galen Robinson Jr. and Damyean Dotson. They all are part of Sampson’s previous teams that helped to build Houston into a national powerhouse.
When it comes to building the culture of a program, Sampson makes sure that his athletes always feel at home at UH. This is why when the school was in the process of building its basketball facilities, Sampson made sure 17 player lockers were built.
Houston Cougars Basketball
As a result of their great success this year, the Houston Cougars have reached the highest ranking in the AP and Coaches polls since 1983. They are currently a 45.7 percent chance to advance to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament, according to the BPI.
Despite not winning their conference tournament this year, the Houston Cougars still have a lot to be proud of. They are a top-five team in scoring defense (56.5%), field goal percentage defense (36.5%), rebounding margin (+7.5%) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.92). They are also one of the top defensive teams in the country in terms of points allowed and points allowed per possession.
In addition to their stout defense, the Houston Cougars are one of the top shooting teams in the American Athletic Conference. They rank second in both field goal percentage and 3-point percentage as well.
The Cougars are a talented group that is loaded with great guards. They have a pair of first-year AAC freshmen, Sharp and Arceneaux, who are both averaging over 20 points a game.
Houston is the reigning American Athletic Conference champions and a top-five seed in the NCAA tournament. Its road to the Final Four doesn’t feature as favorable matchups as Alabama and Texas, but it should enjoy home-court advantage in the finals if the Cougars win both their matchups.
The team has a lot of talent, led by AP first-team All-American Marcus Sasser. He’s averaging 17.1 points and 3.2 assists per game. He scored in double figures in every game this season except for one, a loss to Cincinnati in the conference semifinals.
He missed the AAC title game against Memphis, but he is expected to play in Saturday’s Round of 32 matchup against Auburn. He’ll have to be healthy and ready to go, however, as he suffered a groin injury in the second half of last week’s victory over East Carolina.
Sasser was a big reason why Houston won the AAC championship, and he’ll be key to Houston’s chances in the NCAAs. He’s the catalyst for Houston’s offense and will need to be healthy to get the Cougars into the Final Four.
Sampson is an impressive coach, and he has built a winner in Houston through solid recruiting and development. He’s got a team with great depth and experience that should be able to handle an uphill battle against teams like Miami and Texas.
The Cougars’ chemistry is strong, especially on defense. They are ranked in the top 10 in opponent field-goal percentage and three-point shooting, according to KenPom.
Moreover, they rank seventh in adjusted efficiency margin, which is a better indicator of how a team performs against opponents. This is a major improvement over the team’s performance in 2015-16, when they finished 20th in both of those metrics.
Another key factor in Houston’s success is its coaching staff. Head coach Kelvin Sampson has led the Cougars to three straight seasons of making the NCAA tournament. He’s coached at Houston since 2004 and is known as “Turnaround Tom” for his ability to turn around basketball programs that haven’t been very good in the past.
Leave a Reply