Alvin Brooks, the University of Houston men's basketball coach, looks to this season as a stepping stone toward bringing pride and tradition back to Cougar basketball.
"I think this season holds great promise, and we are very excited about this year," he said.
After losing key contributors Kenya Capers, Willie Byrd and Damon Jones, Brooks is confident that his new recruits will step up and play well. "For the first time, we have a full complement of players, and they do have some experience."
Only two players remain from last year's squad, which lost 10 of its last 11 games and finished 11-16. Forward Galen Robinson and guard Shamahn McBride will be looked upon as leaders, being the team's only seniors.
Robinson, who is ranked among the top 60 NBA prospects, thinks the added talent will help. "The height of (the team) will help me out," he said. "I will be better prepared for games because I will get some rest. Right now, they have us picked dead last, and I hope that stays the same, so we can show people how good we are."
Some new players who will be thrown into the fire immediately are Kenny Younger, Roy Spears, Early Smith and Trey Austin.
A name which should sound familiar to Cougar basketball fans is Hayes, as in Elvin. His nephew, Chris Hayes, is a top recruit and will try to make a name for himself at UH.
Last year's point guard, McBride, said the team is focused on having a breakout season. "I think the team should gel pretty well, and we played pretty well throughout the fall in pick-up games."
McBride is one of the players who will have to adjust this season. He is being moved from the point guard position to shooting guard. "In junior college, I played the combo (point and shooting guard), and it was similar to here. I think I can handle it pretty well."
Practices began with the annual kickoff celebration, Midnight Madness on Oct. 17. While actual practice was limited, the fans who were there got a firsthand look at the squad which will make its debut in the Conference USA National Division.
UH will play its regular season opener on Nov. 18 at Hofheinz Pavilion against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Brooks and Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk have made it possible for all students to attend Cougar home games for free. Brooks hopes for higher student turnout with a new up-tempo style, which he says will be "running and scoring."