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Volume 71, Issue 136, Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sports

Improvement in right places will revive UH

Superfan

Seth Mintz 

Though Cougar athletics seems to have undergone a transformation this year, previous years haven't been so friendly. Talent in UH teams has now begun to emerge. By understanding why the Cougars fell on hard times, along with the momentum gained from this year, UH could be primed for a big season from its teams next year.

The coming year is vital to UH athletics, especially for the football and men's basketball programs. Both programs saw a marked improvement this year, all while the baseball team moved up in the polls. 

Men's basketball seems to be on its way to prominence again. The previous regimes not only didn't win, they seemed to set the Cougars back. Tom Penders, on the other hand, has rejuvenated the team and had them on the cusp of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

A few losses that should have been wins cost the men's basketball team dearly. Inconsistency, porous rebounding and a lack of size at times hurt the Cougars. To combat this problem, Penders has recruited Robert Lee, Tafari Toney, Robert McKiver, Marcus Malone, Nic Mosely and Charlie Jones. 

Penders seems to understand the importance of recruiting and filling the holes of his team, which is in stark contrast with past coaches. With additions from high schools and junior colleges, as well as schemes to put players in the best positions to win, Cougar basketball could find itself fighting in the Tournament next year. 

Cougar football is the hardest UH sport to gauge. Even though the football team appeared in a bowl game, many people still question the team and the coach. Art Briles' style of coaching has not won over his many skeptics and there are still questions as to whether he can recruit the great talent that comes from Texas. 

The talent in Texas, especially in the Houston area, is the best. UH has done a bad job at best at keeping the local talent local. Recruiting the top players from Texas is the key because teams can win big with just the kids from this state. If Briles does nothing else than up our recruits, UH football will be on the rise. 

The baseball team was one of the bright spots of the year. Ranked in the College Baseball top 25 (currently No. 13), the team has become one of the better teams in the country. If Rice can perennially be a top 5 program, there's no reason that UH cannot be just as good. 

Houston might not be a sports powerhouse like a Miami or Texas, but UH athletics can be a true contender starting next year, as long as teams don't fall into old traps. 

Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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