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Volume 71, Issue 61, Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Cougars begin season at home

UH hopes to start the season with two wins against Florida Tech, Virginia Commonwealth

By Chris Elliott
The Daily Cougar

Head coach Tom Penders and the men's basketball team begin the season with what looks to be two warm-up games, as they face off against the Florida Tech Golden Panthers at 7 p.m. today and the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at 8 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be played at Hofheinz Pavilion.

Florida Tech, which comes into today's game with a record of 2-1, will be the definite underdog as they face a program that has the potential to get into the later rounds of the NCAA tournament.

However, despite how lacking their opponents may be in talent, UH players are confident they will not play down to their competition. Junior guard Lanny Smith can attest to this statement, as he and his teammates have not gotten any slack when it comes to practice.

Senior forward Ramon Dyer started 31 of Houston's 32 games, while ranking 17th among Conference USA's rebound leaders with a 5.8 average. The Cougars will begin their new season at 7 p.m. today against Florida Tech at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Cougar File Photo

"Practices have been real intense. Guys are going at each other. Coach (Penders) hasn't let up on us at all," Smith said. "If we make mistakes, he's running us up the stairs. So, he's letting us know that we've got to play fierce each game."

Smith, as well as other members on the team, feels as though they lost some games they shouldn't have lost last year, and they don't want to make the same mistakes twice.

"We learned last year, in games like Tulane, that we can't take anyone lightly," Smith said. "So, in practice the last couple of days, we've been practicing real hard. Coach (Penders) has been making sure we bring the same intensity, as if we were playing a major Division I team. I'm feeling confident that everyone's going to come to play hard, real hard."

Known primarily for the play of its guards last year, the team will try to use this game to give some experience to a player they believe will be a dominant force in the paint once the season gets underway. They call him Tree for a reason.

"That's his name," Penders said. "His mamma calls him Tree, so we figure we can call him that too."

The 6-foot-10-inch center, Emmanuel Adeife, also known as Tree, has impressed teammates and coaches alike with the way he has improved his post play.

"The big men have been looking great, especially Tree, the freshman," Smith said. "He's been blocking shots like crazy, rebounding like crazy and he's been catching and finishing. When he first came along, that part of his game was questionable, but since, then he has really been putting in the practice and it has paid off."

Saturday's match against VCU (0-1) might prove to be a tougher match up than tonight's, but Penders is confident his team will be able to pull it off with a little help. 

"We need the students to come out and support us," Penders said. 

In the preseason, Penders said he believed his team was the hardest working bunch of guys in the NCAA. 

"They'll run, they'll rebound, they'll play defense," Penders said.

Houston hopes to start off with a 2-0 record to build some confidence before they take on Louisiana State and Associated Press No. 9 Arizona next week.

With one of the most athletic teams Houston has seen in years, every night will provide ESPN highlight material. Let the show begin.

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