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Tuesday, October 20, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 41

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Sports Shorts

About the Cougar

Stuffs to build Coogsi dream on


D. Ryan Monceaux
Sports Editor

  "As members of the exclusive college roundball fraternity Phi Slama Jama, the Houston chapter has learned proper parliamentary procedure."

 And so it began. Thus was begun the crowning moment in Cougar athletics, the 1982 - '83 basketball season that saw Houston revolutionize the NCAA with above-the-rim play. Clyde Drexler, Larry Micheaux, Akeem Olajuwon, David Rose and Reid Gettys inspired then-Houston Post columnist Thomas Bonk to coin the name Phi Slama Jama, a name that is still synonymous with winning with style.

 Phi Slama Jama stirred the hearts and souls of Cougar fans for two seasons, both of which saw the Coogs make the Final Four before bowing out with dreams of a championship left unfulfilled. Title or not, Houston fans fully supported their team and the individuals who made it up.

 Phi Slama Jama represented everything that is decent about UofH. Drexler and Olajuwon went on to success in the NBA and are both considered exemplary citizens and, more importantly, true role models for Cougars-to-be. UH fans followed them throughout their professional careers, always sharing in their successes, as well as in their defeats.

 But for over a decade, those same fans have dwindled from the Cougar ranks, due to the lack of success Houston has had on the court. For all of the winning and all of the fun in the early '80s, an equal amount of pain, agony and suffering fell upon the University, and a dark cloud anchored itself over Hofheinz Pavilion. The days of the high-flying fraternity were no more.

 Enter Chet Gladchuk. Gladchuk came to UH for several reasons, one of which was to resurrect the long-gone glory. Gladchuk knew it had been a while for the Coogs, but he also knew that past achievement could be the link to future accomplishment. Armed with that knowledge, Gladchuk found the perfect avenue for connecting the days of yore to the coming days of more.

 Gladchuk recruited Clyde Drexler to come back home, asking him to lead the resurgence of Cougar hoops. Drexler accepted the invitation, and the future of menis basketball lined itself up, post haste. "Glyde with Clyde," a reserved entity of the past, has become the battle cry for the present.

 Drexler made his return to Hofheinz on Friday night, but not without the excitement of yesteryear. The feeling around the arena was definitely, "The best is yet to come."

 The day before Midnight Madness, Gladchuk made the rounds with the reporters who had assembled at UH for the annual preseason basketball luncheon. This year's gathering, however, had a different feeling to it than those in recent memory. This season, there was a definite optimism in the room. If not for the immediate season, at least for those forthcoming.

 Gladchuk was as willing to talk about women's basketball and Joe Curl as he was of the men, but his message on this day was regarding the renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion and the excitement it would bring.

 "With our luxury boxes all the way around (Hofheinz), its going to entomb the environment. If you thought Hofheinz was a tough place to play before, just wait for this season," he said, smirking the entire time.

 As per Gladchuk's quote, Hofheinz could be renamed, or at the very least, dubbed "The Tomb where opponents come to be buried." Even if the intent was not as deliberate as Bonk's, the directive was clear. With the luxury boxes corralling the sound, and a new four-sided scoreboard lofting above, (the tombstone?) The Tomb could be the deadliest asset the Drexler regime brings to the table. The four horses of the Apocalypse are dwarfed by the thought of a Glide-led afterlife.

 So it goes, as the past and the present are concerned. Clyde Drexler is the centerpiece of both: slammin' and jammin' in the former and burying the adversary in the latter. Sure, we all idolized Clyde and the windmill dunks, but this time around, a charmed Cougar life is culminating in the demise of the opposition. Let the funeral procession begin.

Reach Monceauxat

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