The Crux: There’s Always Someone Else To Step Up

After Sasser and Mark were lost for the year in late December, everything changed. Expectations, roles, even Kelvin Sampson’s demeanor. A short “COVID pause” gave the staff a few extra days to implement the new inside-out philosophy. Carlton, Chaney, and White would be the cogs instead of the guys on the perimeter.

As Penny Hardaway whines about his injury-plagued roster, Sampson just buries himself in scheming. The injuries haven’t stopped – there’s hardly been a game where a starter hasn’t gone out with an issue. Chaney is still dealing with his, Carlton keeps getting banged up, and Shead’s miracle ankle healed within two days.

But no matter what, the next guy is always there. Against Tulane, it seemed like Jamal Shead had two fouls when the national anthem finished. Shead picked up his third with 6:35 in the first half. Running that risk is bound to happen more often with a depleted roster. Especially as the schedule jams up – Wednesday night was UH’s first of 10 games in 29 days.

One of the most interesting ways the game has changed in the last 40 years is how coaches automatically sit a guy with two fouls. That Kelvin allowed Shead back in the game just two minutes after picking up his second foul veers far from coaching norms.

With Carlton banged up and Shead on the bench, the man that stepped up was Fabian White. The team’s most experienced player scored 21 and had eight rebounds. He went over 1000 points in his college career Wednesday night, and, in UH’s next win, he will tie Michael Young for most wins in a Houston uniform.

“We’re more celebrating the win than the thousand points…On to the next one, I guess,” was Fabian’s matter-of-fact answer when asked about his milestone.

Despite their issues, Shead and Carlton teamed to score 21 and pull down 15 boards despite playing a combined 40 minutes.


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