Houston Cougars men's basketball

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Houston Cougars
2013–14 Houston Cougars men's basketball team
Houston Cougars athletic logo
University University of Houston
First season 1946
Conference The American
Location Houston, TX
Head coach Kelvin Sampson (1st year)
Arena Hofheinz Pavilion
(Capacity: 8,500)
Nickname Cougars
Colors

Scarlet and White

            
Uniforms
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Home jersey
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Team colours
Home
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Away jersey
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Team colours
Away
NCAA Tournament runner up
1983, 1984
NCAA Tournament Final Four
1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984
NCAA Tournament Elite Eight
1967, 1968, 1982, 1983, 1984
NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen
1956, 1961, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1982, 1983, 1984
NCAA Tournament appearances
1956, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2010
Conference tournament champions
1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1992, 2010
Conference regular season champions
1946, 1947, 1950, 1956, 1983, 1984, 1992

The Houston Cougars men's basketball team represents the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, in the NCAA Division I men's basketball competition. The university is a member of the American Athletic Conference. The team last played in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in 2010, and are tied for eighth in number of Final Four appearances.

History[edit]

Early history (1946-56)[edit]

Although the University of Houston already had a women's basketball program, the Houston Cougars men's basketball program didn't begin until the 1945-1946 season. During their first two seasons, the team won the Lone Star Conference regular season title, and made it to post season play in the NAIA Men's Basketball tournament. The team also appeared in back to back years of 1946, 1947. The Cougars had an all time NAIA tournament record of 2-2 in 2 years.

Guy Lewis era (1956-86)[edit]

Houston's Don Chaney blocks a shot against UCLA in the 1968 Game of the Century
Clyde Drexler performs a slam dunk as a member of the Houston Cougars men's basketball team under Lewis

Pasche retired after the 1955-56 season, and Houston assistant Guy Lewis was promoted to the head coaching position. Lewis, a former Cougar player, led Houston to 27 straight winning seasons and 14 seasons with 20 or more wins, including 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament. His Houston teams made the Final Four on five occasions (1967, 1968, 1982–84) and twice advanced to the NCAA Championship Game (1983, 1984). Among the outstanding players who Lewis coached are Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Otis Birdsong, Dwight Jones, Don Chaney and "Sweet" Lou Dunbar.

Lewis's UH teams twice played key roles in high-profile events that helped to popularize college basketball as a spectator sport. In 1968, his underdog, Elvin Hayes-led Cougars upset the undefeated and top-ranked UCLA Bruins in front of more than 50,000 fans at Houston’s Astrodome. The game became known as the “Game of the Century” and marked a watershed in the popularity of college basketball. In the early 1980s, Lewis's Phi Slama Jama teams at UH gained notoriety for their fast-breaking, "above the rim" style of play as well as their overall success. These teams attracted great public interest with their entertaining style of play. At the height of Phi Slama Jama's notoriety, they suffered a dramatic, last-second loss in the 1983 NCAA Final that set a then-ratings record for college basketball broadcasts and became an iconic moment in the history of the sport. Lewis's insistence that these highly successful teams play an acrobatic, up-tempo brand of basketball that emphasized dunking brought this style of play to the fore and helped popularize it amongst younger players.

Houston lost in both NCAA Final games in which Lewis coached, despite his "Phi Slama Jama" teams featuring superstars Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. In 1983, Houston lost in a dramatic title game to the North Carolina State Wolfpack on a last-second dunk by Lorenzo Charles. The Cougars lost in the 1984 NCAA Final to the Georgetown Hoyas, led by Patrick Ewing. Lewis retired from coaching in 1986 at number 20 in all-time NCAA Division I victories, his 592-279 record giving him a .680 career winning percentage.

As a coach, Lewis was known for championing the once-outlawed dunk, which he characterized as a "high percentage shot", and for clutching a brightly colored red-and-white polka dot towel on the bench during games. Lewis was a major force in the racial integration of college athletics in the South during the 1960s, being one of the first major college coaches in the region to actively recruit African-American athletes. His recruitment of Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney in 1964 ushered in an era of tremendous success in Cougar basketball. The dominant play of Hayes led the Cougars to two Final Fours and sent shock waves through Southern colleges that realized that they would have to begin recruiting black players if they wanted to compete with integrated teams.

Welcome to Conference USA (1996-98)[edit]

After 21 years in the Southwest Conference, the Cougars joined Conference USA in 1996. Under head coach Alvin Brooks, the basketball program had a disappointing initial season in C-USA. The team went 3-11 against C-USA teams in 1996-97. The next season was even more futile. Brooks, who had led the Cougars since 1993, coached the Cougars to a rock bottom conference record of 2-14 in 1997-98. The last, and only other, time the Cougars recorded only two conference victories in a season was in 1950-51; their first season in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Return to glory? (1998-2000)[edit]

One of Houston's biggest sports icons and one of the Cougars best basketball players ever, Clyde Drexler was hired to coach the program that he led as a player to the 1983 NCAA Final as part of Phi Slama Jama. Basketball excitement was back on campus, and fans looked forward to the promising years to come. After just two seasons however, Drexler resigned as head coach to spend more time with his family.

Striving for success (2000-04)[edit]

Ray McCallum was hired to do what Clyde Drexler could not—lead the Cougars to a winning season and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. After losing seasons in each of his first two years, McCallum guided the Cougars to a 18-15 record in 2001-02. That season, the team won two conference tournament games and qualified for the National Invitation Tournament. However, the team regressed in the following season and failed to qualify for their own C-USA tournament.

Two steps forward, one step back (2004-07)[edit]

2004-05[edit]

Tom Penders was named as the head coach of Cougars basketball in 2004. Known as "Turnaround Tom" for his reputation of inheriting sub-par basketball programs and making them better, Penders was hired to rebuild a program that recorded only one winning season in its last eight years. After a surprising debut season in 2004-05 that led to an NIT appearance, the team had high hopes to build on their relative success and make the NCAA Tournament in 2006.

2005-06[edit]

The 2005-06 season looked promising at the outset. The Cougars started their first game on a 30-0 scoring run against the Florida Tech Panthers. Less than two weeks later, the Cougars beat the nationally ranked LSU Tigers on the road and the Arizona Wildcats at home. The surprising wins earned the Cougars their first national ranking in several years. The team that seemed destined for an NCAA Tournament berth failed to capitalize on their success and national recognition and began to stumble after a loss to South Alabama Jaguars in December. The Cougars won only one conference tournament game and had to settle again for another NIT bid.

2006-07[edit]

Dubbed as "The Show," the 2006-07 Cougars entered the season with cockiness and strong expectations to finally make it into the NCAA Tournament. A difficult schedule matched the Cougars with seven different teams that would end up qualifying for either the 2007 NCAA Tournament or NIT. Houston lost three times to the Memphis Tigers and once each to Arizona, the Creighton Bluejays, the Kentucky Wildcats, South Alabama, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, and the VCU Rams. By going 0-9 against these quality teams, the Cougars proved they were not worthy of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Not surprisingly, two conference tournament wins against lower seeds and an unimpressive 18-15 overall record were not even enough to earn the team an invitation to the NIT.

Team goal: NCAA Tournament (2007−)[edit]

2007-08[edit]

The Houston Cougars at the 2008 CBI

With a slightly new nickname ("The Show—In 3D") and slightly new uniform (a changed trim design), the 2007-08 Cougars hoped to build on their mediocre prior season and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1992. Eight straight home games from November 21 to December 29 helped the Cougars get off to a 11-1 start. However, the team lost most of its critical games at the end of the season, including their last two games (both against the UTEP Miners).

Their post-season hopes were not altogether dashed, however. Houston received an invitation to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational tournament and defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Valparaiso Crusaders but lost to their conference rival, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, in the semifinal round.

2008-09[edit]

The 2008-09 season began on November 11 with a two-point loss to the Georgia Southern Eagles; this was the first game of the Division I college basketball season and the opening game of the 2K Sports Classic tournament in Durham, North Carolina. A Cougars win would have meant a second round matchup with the Duke Blue Devils.

In December, the Cougars traveled over 1,300 miles (their farthest scheduled trip of the season) to Toledo, Ohio for a rare match-up against the Toledo Rockets at Savage Hall.

Overall, the Cougars played a balanced home and away regular season schedule. Fifteen games (three in November, three in December, four in January, three in February, and two in March) were played at Hofheinz Pavilion. Fourteen games (two in November, two in December, five in January, and five in February) were played away from Hofheinz.

2009-10: Mission Accomplished[edit]

At first glance, it looked like the 2009-10 season would continue the Cougars' recent string of mediocrity, as they finished the regular season 15-15 and 7-9 in C-USA, only good for seventh place in the conference.

However, it seems the Cougars saved their best for the tourney. Following a 93-80 win over the East Carolina Pirates in the first round, the Cougars stunned previous C-USA juggernaut the Memphis Tigers 66-65, ending a string of four tournament titles for the Tigers. These heroics would extend into the semifinals, where they defeated the Southern Miss Golden Eagles 74-66. Finally, the Cougars capped off their Cinderella run with an 81-73 upset over the #25-ranked UTEP Miners, proving the third season the charm in their mission and finally clinching a bid in the NCAA Tournament, their first since 1992. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Houston, seeded 13th, was defeated 89–77 by the 4th-seeded Maryland Terrapins.

Penders announced his resignation as Houston head coach on March 22, 2010.[1]

Recent records[edit]

List of Houston Cougars basketball seasons

As Conference USA member
Season Overall record* C-USA tournament record Postseason record Head coach
1996-97 11-16 (3-11) 0-1; Lost in first round Alvin Brooks
1997-98 9-20 (2-14) 0-1; Lost in first round Alvin Brooks
1998-99 10-17 (5-11) 0-1; Lost in first round Clyde Drexler
1999-00 9-22 (2-14) 1-1; Lost in quarterfinal Clyde Drexler
2000-01 9-20 (6-10) 0-1; Lost in first round Ray McCallum
2001-02 18-15 (9-7) 2-1; Lost in semifinal 0-1 in NIT Ray McCallum
2002-03 8-20 (6-10) 0-1; Lost in first round Ray McCallum
2003-04 9-18 (3-13) Ray McCallum
2004-05 18-14 (9-7) 0-1; Lost in first round 0-1 in NIT Tom Penders
2005-06 21-10 (9-5) 1-1; Lost in semifinal 1-1 in NIT Tom Penders
2006-07 18-15 (10-6) 2-1; Lost in final Tom Penders
2007-08 24-10 (11-5) 0-1; Lost in quarterfinal 2-1 in CBI Tom Penders
2008-09 21-12 (10-6) 2-1; Lost in semifinal 0-1 in CBI Tom Penders
2009-10 19-16 (7-9) 4-0; Won championship 0-1 in NCAA Tom Penders
2010-11 12-18 (4-12) 0-1; Lost in first round James Dickey
2011-12 15-15 (7-9) 0-1; Lost in first round James Dickey
2012-13 20-13 (7-9) 1-1; Lost in quarterfinal 1-1 in CBI James Dickey

* Overall record includes regular season and tournament/postseason results; Regular season conference record contained in parentheses

Postseason play[edit]

NCAA Men's Division I Tournament results[edit]

The Cougars have appeared in 19 NCAA Tournaments. Their overall record is 26–24.

Year Round Opponent Result
1956 Regional Semifinals
Regional 3rd Place Game
SMU
Kansas State
L 74–89
L 70–89
1961 Regional Quarterfinals
Regional Semifinals
Regional 3rd Place Game
Marquette
Kansas State
Texas Tech
W 77–61
L 64–76
L 67–69
1965 Regional Quarterfinals
Regional Semifinals
Regional 3rd Place Game
Notre Dame
Oklahoma State
SMU
W 99–98
L 60–75
L 87–89
1966 Regional Quarterfinals
Regional Semifinals
Regional 3rd Place
Colorado State
Oregon State
Pacific
W 82–76
L 60–63
W 102–91
1967 Regional Quarterfinals
Regional Semifinals
Regional Finals
Final Four
National 3rd Place Game
New Mexico State
Kansas
SMU
UCLA
North Carolina
W 59–58
W 66–53
W 83–75
L 58–73
W 84–62
1968 Regional Quarterfinals
Regional Semifinals
Final Four
National 3rd Place Game
Loyola–Chicago
Louisville
TCU
UCLA
Ohio State
W 94–76
W 91–75
W 103–68
L 69–101
L 85–89
1970 Regional Quarterfinals
Regional Semifinals
Regional 3rd Place
Dayton
Drake
Kansas State
W 71–64
L 87–92
L 98–107
1971 Regional Quarterfinals
Regional Semifinals
Regional 3rd Place
New Mexico State
Kansas
Notre Dame
W 72–69
L 77–78
W 119–106
1972 Regional Quarterfinals Texas L 74–85
1973 Regional Quarterfinals Southwest Louisiana L 89–102
1978 Regional Quarterfinals Notre Dame L 77–100
1981 First Round Villanova L 72–90
1982 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
Alcorn State
Tulsa
Missouri
Boston College
North Carolina
W 94–84
W 78–74
W 79–78
W 99–92
L 63–68
1983 Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National Championship Game
Maryland
Memphis State
Villanova
Louisville
NC State
W 60–50
W 70–63
W 89–71
W 94–81
L 52–54
1984 Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National Championship Game
Louisiana Tech
Memphis State
Wake Forest
Virginia
Georgetown
W 77–70
W 78–71
W 68–63
W 49–47 OT
L 75–84
1987 First Round Kansas L 55–66
1990 First Round UC Santa Barbara L 66–70
1992 First Round Georgia Tech L 60–65
2010 First Round Maryland L 77–89

NIT results[edit]

The Cougars have appeared in nine National Invitation Tournaments (NIT). Their combined record is 5–9.

Year Round Opponent Result/Score
1962 Quarterfinals Dayton L 77–94
1977 First Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Finals
Indiana State
Illinois State
Alabala
St. Bonaventure
W 83–82
W 91–90
W 82–76
L 91–94
1987 First Round Lamar L 71–78
1988 First Round
Second Round
Fordham
Colorado State
W 69–61
L 61–71
1991 First Round Stanford L 86–93
1993 First Round UTEP L 61–67
1998 Opening Round Vanderbilt L 50–59
2005 Opening Round Wichita State L 69–85
2006 First Round
Second Round
BYU
Missouri State
W 77–67
L 59–60

CBI[edit]

The Cougars have appeared in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) three times. Their combined record is 3–3.

Year Round Opponent Result/Score
2008 First Round
Quarterfinals
Semifinals
Nevada
Valparaiso
Tulsa
W 80–79
W 91–67
L 69–73
2009 First Round Oregon State L 45–49
2013 First Round
Quarterfinals
Texas
George Mason
W 73–72
L 84–88 OT

Notable players[edit]

† Played in the National Basketball Association (current players in bold)

‡ Played in the American Basketball Association

Retired numbers[edit]

The Cougars have retired the numbers of five men's basketball players: Otis Birdsong, Clyde Drexler, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Michael Young.

Otis
Birdsong
1973-1977
Clyde
Drexler
1980-1983
Hakeem
Olajuwon
1981-1984
Michael
Young
1980-1984
Elvin
Hayes
1964-1968

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]