After self-ambush versus Temple, Houston Cougars basketball found the urge of want to against UCF

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Romeo Guzman/CSM/Shutterstock (13741742k) Houston Cougars forward J’Wan Roberts (13) goes for the dunk during 1st half NCAA basketball between the Houston Cougars and UCF Knights at Addition Financial Arena in Orlando, FL NCAA Basketball Houston vs Central Florida, Orlando, USA – 25 Jan 2023

After self-ambush versus Temple, Houston Cougars basketball found the urge of want to against UCF

Immediately after the Houston Cougars basketball team suffered their first conference loss of the season against Temple last Sunday, head coach Kelvin Sampson challenged his players.

The execution against the Owls was not up to the standard of Houston Cougar basketball. Overall, it was a flat performance that ended in the most perfect way possible, a layup by redshirt sophomore guard Tramon Mark that just did not go in. It was almost as if UH did not deserve to win, Sampson stated.

“You felt like you got ambushed in the alley by your own team because I was really disappointed in our effort, in our toughness, things that we value,” Sampson said after Houston’s win against Central Florida on Wednesday. “Our core values was just under attack on [Sunday].”

Houston struggled to make shots, but a glaring area it failed to execute in was crashing the offensive glass. Something that has become a calling card for the Cougars under Sampson.

UH missed 37 shots against Temple. It only rebounded 12 of those misses, which is an unacceptable number for the Cougars. Sampson and his staff emphasize tracking down at least 50% of the team’s misses.

Against UCF, Houston got back on track by rebounding 57.14% of its misses against the Knights. Houston also did a better job creating shots for others. The Cougars assisted on 18 of the team’s 28-made baskets. In comparison, UH had only nine assists in the team’s 19-made field goals against Temple.

For Houston, the lack of execution in those areas was more disappointing because it was not due to the lack of skill but due to something it can control — effort.

“It’s just the urge of want to,” Houston junior forward J’Wan Roberts told reporters following the team’s Monday practice. “Going into the game focusing on your assignment, not letting this person get off a certain amount of threes, not letting this person get to the free-throw line, that is a want thing. You know, going forward, we are going to have to be better at that.”

Over the course of a season, Sampson knows there will always be slippage from game to game. When it occurs, the head coach makes sure to point it out and address it to the team. On Wednesday, Houston executed the message and was able to get back to its standard.

“That is who we are,” Sampson said. “We have not been rebounding well. I thought we were very below average [Sunday], but you know that is effort, man. The ball is not going to come to you, you actually have to go get it.”

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