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Volume 72, Issue 63, Thursdsay, November 16, 2006

Sports

UH will look to big men vs. Monmouth

Cougars lit up scoreboard against Rams, will try to shoot Hawks 
out of defensive strategy

by CHRIS ELLIOTT
The Daily Cougar

Houston was a free throw away from allowing Rhode Island to crack the century mark in its 102-99 road win Monday. Under the direction of head coach Tom Penders, Houston did not allow a single team to score more than 84 points last season, but that stat doesn't matter to him as long as his team is on the winning side of things.

Rhode Island is a reputable team from the Atlantic 10 that was 10-6 at home in the 2005-06 season. Putting up 102 -- and most importantly, winning -- against the Rams gave Penders an idea of just how explosive his team can be, and he said he would like his team to carry its offensive success and momentum into its home opener against the Monmouth Hawks at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hofheinz Pavilion.

"It was a great win and a great way to start the season," Penders said. "The pace of the game is faster for us this year. We're trying to really push it and shoot quick. We're running the Phoenix Suns' offense and that provides more possessions for your opponents. 

"To me the most overrated stat in college basketball is points allowed. It all depends what pace the game is played at. I thought our defense was good, it's just that Rhode Island made a lot of shots."

Saturday's game could turn out slightly differently. Junior guard Robert "Fluff" McKiver, who scored 32 points in his UH debut Monday, shooting seven of 12 from three-point land, said he expects Monmouth to try to slow the game down and utilize its size advantage by running a Princeton-style offense.

"They're a big team. They like to slow the ball down," Mckiver said. "But with our pressure, I think we'll do well."

Senior guard Oliver Lafayette, who drained the game-winning three Monday, agrees, and he said excellent guard play accompanied by a solid night from the big men will give Houston a good chance to win against a 1-2 Monmouth team that represented the Northeast Conference in the NCAA Tournament last season.

"We know they like to do that Princeton offense, so they're going to try to back-cut us, so we've got to be disciplined on defense," Lafayette said. "We know they like to play match-up zone -- a lot of teams will play us in zone (defense) this year. They might try to take our guards out of it, so our big men should be able to hit some shots. 

"If our big men hit some shots, we ought to be good in the game. We have some of the best guards in the country, so we should be able to match up against any guards we play this year."

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