Behind the scenes: UH Hoops post-practice

Kelvin Sampson does not allow the media into his practices. When a writer comes into town to do a feature on special occasions, they may get to sit in for one. But for the day-to-day folks, we have to wait for practice to end, and then we get access.

the daily #128 | 12/6/2023 | Archives

Before road games, the team practices in the Guy V. Lewis Development Facility. Before home games, they’ll usually practice at Fertitta Center unless it’s being used for a volleyball or women’s basketball game. When the team is at the Guy V., the media waits in the lobby and is pretty far removed from what’s happening. When it’s at Fertitta, we sit at the back of the club area, closest to the snackbar. We’re not allowed to watch practice, but we sometimes hear practice.

Listening to practice is a developed skill. You expect to watch basketball, but this can work. In very small nuggets, we get to hear what’s going on. Kelvin coaches at a low decibel or a very high decibel. Mostly, it’s low decibel, so you don’t hear too much. But if you’re vigilent, you pick up on small things that can inform your writing or at least your understanding. It helps to attend regularly; we get these opportunities before games – not for every practice.

When practice ends, some days Kelvin Sampson talks to us. Others, like Tuesday, we’d talked to Kelvin via zoom around lunchtime. So, on this day, no Kelvin (although he and I had a pretty funny interaction right after practice that subscribers read about last night).

Sometimes, it’s a lot of writers and local TV people. Sometimes, it’s just Starns Leland from GoCoogs and The Cougar and me. Starns is committed to being a true beat writer, meaning he takes advantage of every opportunity he gets to be around the team, ask questions, and observe. It was Starns and Riley from The Cougar, a TV cameraman, and myself on Tuesday. Media people will request to talk to certain players, they can shoot B-roll, just watch, or whatever. It’s all pretty standard.

But after I laughed with Kelvin briefly, I noticed Emanuel Sharp shooting free throws. That’s different. Not that he doesn’t shoot them, but the time after practice is usually focused on three-point shooting.

Emanuel does not like that he’s already missed more free throws in 2023-24 (six) than in all of 2022-23 (five). He’s getting to the line more this year because he’s driving more and shooting more inside the arc. Last year, 22.0% of Emanuel’s shots were inside the three-line. This year, at least early on, 42.0% of his shots are two-point attempts.

He’s drawing more contact and thinks he needs to hit more free throws. So Coach Quannas White challenged him – he needs to shoot 90% from the line. Emanuel is taking the challenge seriously.

Enjoy this behind the scenes video from Tuesday’s post-practice with Jamal Shead narrating, L.J. Cryer and Mylik Wilson bombing from outside, and Emanuel grinding at the line.

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