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Volume 71, Issue 146, Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sports

UH wheeling and dealing for right schedule

Basketball looks for recipe to perfect schedules for coming seasons

by Chris Elliott 
THE DAILY COUGAR

When putting together a schedule for the coming season, UH basketball coaches have one thing in mind: NCAA Tournament. That means balancing between playing tough teams with high rating percentage indices, playing some teams that are guaranteed wins and scheduling some of those middle-of-the-road squads, all while keeping in mind the fan base. 

"You don't want to overload yourself with too many good teams. Then again you don't want to do yourself an injustice by not getting any good teams at all to play," associate coach and recruiting director Melvin Haralson said. "No games are guaranteed, but you want to try to balance out the schedule and make sure you're playing the types of teams that will give you good credibility. That gives you a shot at having a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament."

Haralson has been involved in negotiations with representatives from other teams, trying for a "home and home," which is when teams schedule to play each other in consecutive years, giving both programs a chance to play at home. 


Senior Guard Oliver Lafayette averaged 30 points per game in the two-game span when UH defeated Louisiana State 84-83 and Arizona 69-65 in the beginning weeks of the 2005-2006 season.
Daily Cougar File Photo

In its quick resurgence into the realm of top-tier teams, Houston has been labeled a high-risk, low-reward team by many programs, and this makes the scheduling process more complicated.

"Some of the high-end teams we've tried to get involved with this year have been Kentucky, North Carolina and we already have Arizona. We've also tried to get in touch with Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M and Kansas," Haralson said. "A lot of teams didn't want to (play us) because they felt like they had a lot to lose. If you lose to us and you are a higher rated team than us, then that can cause you to lose some points (in the RPI), and that could hurt your chances of going into the NCAA Tournament.

"It's a deal where you have to strategize, and we want to make sure we give our team a chance to win 20-plus games a year. I feel that if you win 20-plus games a year that gives you a chance to make the tournament," Haralson said. "Scheduling is something that is very important; you've got to make the right decisions and the right choices. No teams are guaranteed. All teams are going to challenge us. Some teams will just be harder challenges than the others."

There would be no such thing as home court advantage if it were not for the fans -- that goes for any team in any sport at any level. With that in mind Houston, could have to fight through a robust road schedule this season to give the fans what they want the following year. And that, of course, is high-quality basketball against high-quality teams.

"We make sure we keep in mind our fan base," Haralson said. "Let's say if we get the chance to play North Carolina at North Carolina that would give us away games at North Carolina, Kentucky and Arizona. The year after that we would have Kentucky, North Carolina and Arizona (playing in Hofheinz) all in the same year." 

"Those are three big-time programs and I think having those three teams coming to us, plus Memphis, which is in our conference, would give us an outstanding home schedule. Right now we have three of those four teams. The decision on North Carolina hasn't been made yet," Haralson said.

Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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