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Volume 8, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

Lafayette assists in Houston's search 
for consistent shooting

Sports Commentary

Chris Elliot

Vying for a top tournament seed, The Houston men's basketball team has already reached the point when every game is a must-win.

The Cougars have proven their ability to compete with some of the more talented teams in the nation, but it seems like they have not been able to put together a game in which they both shoot well and knocked down their free throws. 

Houston can confidently boast that it has one of the top defenses in the nation, but every team has its bad days. And if there is a game when their swarming defense cannot force 25 turnovers and get 20 points off of fast breaks, there is no guarantee they would be able to dominate in the half court offense, at least to the extent they have mastered the transition game. 

Stephen Pinchback/Breaking News

Oliver Lafayette is among the nation's top scorer's, and has been UH's go-to guy in the half court offense.

The Cougars have shot 44 percent from the field this season, which is not horrible, but not altogether impressive. Close to 20 percent of Houston's points come off of fast break dunks and lay-ups, or in other words, high-percentage shots. But the other stuff is what concerns me. The team just hasn't performed well in the half court offense.

They too often seem confused, and though they have one of the best turnover ratios in the country, the ones they do give away seem to be a result of bad execution in the half court offense.

But, it would be a crime to say that these offensive woes are not a hop-step and a jumper away from being corrected. Behind J.J. Redick of Duke and Gonzaga's Adam Morrison, Houston has the next best offensive player in the country in Oliver Lafayette. His 20 point per game average can't lie. Behind him there is the "Dunk Master Flex" Jamar Thorpe who has shown the ability to put up 15 per night if given the minutes. And of course Lanny Smith can score at will when he decides to put the team on his shoulders. 

Any one who has been to a game at Hofheinz Pavilion has seen his ability to beat an entire team off the dribble, and trying to guard him one-on-one is a "no-no". His 6.2 assist per game have been a big part of Houston's 7-3 record. 

Ending the month of December on a five game winning streak, head coach Tom Penders and a tested team look to start the New Year with victories over Centenary and Texas A&M Corpus Christi, before they begin conference play. Hopefully running through these developing teams will launch the shooting groove necessary for, at least, a 20 win season. They could do it on defense alone, but why make the job harder?

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