2007 Houston Cougars Basketball Preview
The Houston Cougars (18- 15 overall, 10- 6 C-USA) did not make it to the NCAA or NIT after placing third in C-USA last season. Coach Tom Penders (57- 39 in three years with Houston, 584- 400 overall in 33 years) will try once again to get this team to a place they have not been in 15 years—the NCAA’s Big Dance. Unlike past Cougar teams under Penders, this club possesses depth and talent to make into the conference tournaments.
In 2006- 2007, the Houston Cougars proved that they could handle the college basketball point spreads and the ball extremely well as they turned it over a mere 11.6 TPG, which was first in C-USA and 16th in the NCAA. Their 73.2 PPG was third in the conference. However, scoring defense was rated 11th as the club allowed an average of 70.5 PPG. In rebounding margin, they were dismal as the Cougars finished at minus-5.5 RPG (12th C-USA). As a gunning team, they had only 11.5 APG, which was 10th in the league.
Senior forward Dion Dowell (11.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG) is versatile enough to play in both the front and backcourts. Center Marcus Cousin, a transfer from Seton Hall, should have an impact in front. The 6’ 11”, 245-pound junior s expected to provide some banging power around the basket. Freshman forward Yan Moukoury, who was courted by numerous programs, can play tough inside and also hit the three-pointer and our NCAA basketball picks.
The backcourt sees the return of seniors Robert McKiver (19.2 PPG, 3.4 APG) and Lanny Smith (7.8 PPG, 3.0 APG). McKiver proved to be a dynamic scorer last season. When we bet on college basketball this season, we will observe Smith, who struggled with injury issues, but now looks healthy and ready to run and shoot. There’s a lot of depth in back, including senior reserve Robert Lee (5.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG), who can come off the bench and perform.
The saying is “teams that live by the three-point shot, die by the three-point shot.” Just how many of the club’s threes go in will determine how many contests they win. Last season, the club threw 463 shots from downtown, sinking a conference-best 153 of them. What will be helpful in getting them back to the NCAA tournament would be some solid defense. That would make all the difference in the world.