Inside UH Hoops’ first day of practice

The Houston Cougars officially opened fall practice on Wednesday. Of course, fall practice isn’t quite what it used to be.

the daily #59 | 9/28/2023 | Archives

Summer. The team went through eight weeks of workouts in the summer, mostly led by assistant coaches (Kelvin Sampson gets Fridays and Kelvin loves Fridays). Then, they had ten official practices, including a public scrimmage, in preparation for the Australia trip. And then four exhibitions down under, and the practices and walk-throughs around them.

The last 5-6 weeks have been all about conditioning on the court. Off the court, the team dealt with the passing of their friend and teammate, Reggie Chaney. Some have said privately that they’re still grieving for #32.

First Practice. Kelvin was in pretty good spirits as far as first practices go. Players have talked about how he’s made these first practices hell in the past. On this day, he stressed the team’s youth; while Australia was great and helpful to all of them, they were just exhibitions. It will be different for the freshmen – Ced Lath, Jojo Tugler, and Jacob McFarland – once the regular season begins.

Freshman Kordel Jefferson is out for the year after surgeries on each of his wrists.

Shead, Wanny & Cryer. Jamal Shead said that J’Wan Roberts is in much better shape, and he’s been active on the court. The move to the four spot is good for J’Wan – he’s felt all along that it was his best place on the floor. With Ja’Vier Francis moving to starting center, it frees Roberts up to get outside and do more things.

Shead also discussed his years of playing against L.J. Cryer. The two have competed since the third grade. Jamal admits that Cryer’s teams usually get the upper hand, starting in grade school all the way to the 2021 Final Four.

“We used to meet them in the championship every weekend (in the AAU circuit). It got kinda tiresome losing to them, so I’m glad we stopped playing,” Shead said with his devilish smile.

“He was kicking our butt, the only person in third grade doing stepbacks.”

The two are now roommates, and Shead is learning how to facilitate Cryer: where he likes the ball passed to him, what works best in certain situations, and then drilling that repeatedly until it becomes quick-twitch.

Sampson says Cryer is ahead of other transfers because he comes from a championship program and understands the expectations of the UH Culture.

Video. For a deeper look into the first practice, check out our video:

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