Cougars back to work Sunday & Sharp and Dunn’s ascent

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AMES, IA – The #3 Houston Cougars returned to practice on Sunday at 3 p.m. The team went through a 2.5-hour practice and left the floor without the usual post-game shooting work. Typically, players are on the court for up to 90 minutes after practice, getting personalized instruction from assistant coaches, working on drills, or shooting contests.

But as practice wrapped up, Kelvin Sampson asked them to skip post-practice work on Sunday, preserving their legs for games at Iowa State and TCU this week. Sampson will use various methods to keep his team fresh during the Big 12 gauntlet. He has rested starters more in the first half of games, experimenting with new lineups and lessening the work outside organized practices.

In the past, according to GoCoogs contributor Galen Robinson, Sampson has worked players hard before a game, with extended practices on the day before and even making them run extra sprints in shoot-around the day of the game. Those days are gone, at least for the Big 12 slate, it appears.

The Cyclones. Kelvin spent Sunday morning reviewing film from the WVU game, making notes, reviewing his assistant coaches’ written WVU game assessments, and then turned his attention to Iowa State. He said he only needed to watch about 28 minutes of game time from the West Virginia game because it turned into a sloppy foul fest (and UH was up a million). When he met with the team, they spent little time reviewing West Virginia, instead going straight into Iowa State.

The Cyclones are similar to UH in a lot of ways. Sampson said they have athletic bigs and dynamic guards, and he believes they are well-coached. Play in the paint will dictate a lot in this game, and Emanuel Sharp will likely get another tough defensive assignment. We’ll have more on Iowa State in Jayme Hollingsworth’s scouting report and personnel breakdown.

The Cougars leave Houston around lunch on Monday, getting to Ames, Iowa, before a snowstorm dumps 5-6 inches on the region. Houston is scheduled to practice at Hilton Coliseum on Monday night and will have a shoot-around there on Tuesday morning.

J’Wan Roberts says his knee responded well to the WVU game but will not overdo it before Iowa State.

Ascending. Emanuel Sharp & Damian Dunn. With Terrance Arceneaux out for the season, the need for better play from the wing increased, and Sharp and Dunn have been delivering.

Sampson has called the two guys that play the ‘three’ interchangeably, as they have similar skill sets. Sharp has improved his defense tremendously since the summer trip to Australia. What was once a liability is now considered a strength for the Tampa guard. He’s also improved his rebounding. Chided for having no rebounds in the scrimmage on August 1, Sharp is now consistently grabbing boards. Since Arceneaux went down, Sharp has 20 rebounds (to go along with 58 points and nine steals) in four games.

Damian Dunn launches a three over Battle // Photo © 2024 by Mario Puente

Damian Dunn is coming, according to associate head coach Quannas White. He’s gaining confidence, and it’s been showing in practice and now, finally, in games. Dunn’s role is completely different than it was at Temple, and he’s adjusting to coming off the bench and not being the #1 option on offense. That’s been eye-opening for him, as has learning a new team and Houston’s intricate defensive calls.

L.J. Cryer came in simultaneously but from a different world: Cryer played for a winning program and understood the sacrifice of being part of a championship team. It’s starting to click for Dunn, and he’s had back-to-back games scoring in double-digits.

The tandem of Sharp and Dunn shut down RaeQuan Battle from WVU. Battle’s never had a start that rivaled his 1/9 shooting in 23 minutes against Sharp and Dunn. A lot of credit goes to Quannas White for his work with the two guards.

We Got The Beat. On Sunday, UH’s only availability between the WVU and Iowa State games, GoCoogs and Starns Leland from The Cougar (and the Cougar After Thoughts Show!) were the only media members to show up—just two guys there to talk to coaches and players from the only undefeated team in America. Kelvin Sampson runs the most accommodating program you’ll ever encounter, and he, his players, and staff give us a ton of access. GoCoogs provides pre-game and post-practice videos, insights gleaned from those in the program, and exclusive interviews with players and coaches for our readers, listeners, and viewers.

GoCoogs is committed to being the best daily coverage of Houston Basketball, and the more reach and subscribers we have, the more we can do. We’ve published nearly 100 pieces of basketball content since the season started, and we’ll keep at it.

Working the beat means showing up every time the program opens the doors, and I’m proud of Starns, who is still a student, for sacrificing to be a great beat writer. Support the journalism of those who consistently put in the time and do the work to cover your Cougars; support The Cougar and – you can subscribe for just $44.99 a year (50% off).



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