Jason C. Consolacion
Ed De La Garza
Christian Schmidt Keenan
Hoopin' it up
There's a new team at Hofheinz Pavilion, and these aren't your older
sibling's Lady Cougars. No — these Lady Cougars are actually good.
They're 21-7 this year, even more impressive when you realize they
went 7-21 just two seasons ago. Head coach Joe Curl has performed his
role as captain admirably, steering clear of choppy waters and landing
in the right place: the semifinals of the Women's National Invitation
Although they were seeded No. 2 in the postseason conference tournament
and reached the semifinals, Curl and his girls were left without a
gown for the big dance — the NCAA tournament. The team's wins over
Rice, Miami and Valaparaiso have proven that the committee made an
error by not seeding Houston in the NCAAs.
Chandi Jones, elected as a second team All-American, should be nominated
for Ms. Universe as well, because that is what she has been to
this team — the universe. When she stepped onto the UH campus in Fall
2000, everyone knew she would be good; in fact, it was pretty much a
consensus that she would be great.
But no one could have predicted how fast she became great and how fast
her team went from Conference USA's outhouse to its penthouse. If
she had been born with a Y chromosome instead of two Xs, she would
have been on someone's NBA roster.
However, Jones isn't a one-woman show. The team's two seniors, centers
Val Muonke and Rosalind Carter, have helped groom a team that
once was greener than Kermit's pinkie toe.
This season of success has had its setbacks, however. Key transfers
Courtney Pastner and Nakia Holmes saw their careers as Cougars end
faster than they projected. Curl turned to his doe-eyed freshmen to
pick up the slack and some wins.
And they did. Shondra Bush fought through stifling defenses and a broken
finger to be the team's first option off the bench and often its point
guard. Kiemona "Kiki" Harris is still a little raw, but when her potential
is realized, she could be dangerous. Ashley Cotton darts in and out with
her deadly left hand. Sara Hinckley and Crystal Simpson have played
sparingly but well.
The vets, Angela Curl, the team's resident long-range sharpshooter,
C-USA's Defensive Player of the Year Nicole Oliver, Muoneke, and
Carterhave helped Curl reach success not seen since 1988, when
the team reached the NCAAs.
We all have something to be proud of in this year's Lady Cougars.