For Houston Cougars basketball, extra days off are a good reset ahead of final season stretch

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris Szagola/AP/Shutterstock (13755619h) Houston’s bench reacts to the win during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Temple, in Philadelphia. Houston won 81-65 Houston Temple Basketball, Philadelphia, United States – 05 Feb 2023

For Houston Cougars basketball, extra days off are a good reset ahead of final season stretch

The Houston Cougars basketball team has racked up a lot of miles over the past three weeks.

Since UH traveled east to New Orleans to face off against Tulane on Jan. 17, the Cougars have traveled a total of 6,976 miles, played six games, and practiced numerous times in the 22-day span.

Now with a full week off until it returns to the court in Dallas, No. 2 Houston is relishing the opportunity to take a mental and physical break as it approaches March.

“I do know the pulse of this team, and the thing this team really needs right now is rest,” Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson told reporters after the team’s win over Tulsa. “We’ve had a tough stretch. Starting in New Orleans, it has just been nonstop.”

The Cougars have only six regular season games left before the American Athletic Conference postseason tournament begins. The week after that is when the NCAA Tournament starts.

For Houston, the eight days between its last game against Tulsa and its next one at SMU will be the final extended break it has until its season comes to an end, whenever that may be.

UH’s players have been on a grind ever since June when teams were first allowed to begin offseason workouts for the new year, Sampson said.

The summer months are used by the team to acclimate the new group of players and goes until the end of September, with breaks in between over the course of the months. This past Tuesday was practice No. 84 for the Cougars this season, Sampson said.

When you add Houston’s two scrimmages in October against Duke and Texas, the 25 regular season games played, and the summer workouts, the Cougars have a lot of wear and tear on their bodies.

“These are human beings,” Sampson said. “It impacts them. It impacts their legs, the way they play, so for us to stay at that high a level and be 11-1 in the league after all that, I’m proud of my team.”

Houston will be off on Thursday, the head coach said. Sampson will be on a recruiting trip, he added. The Cougars will likely practice Friday and Saturday, have Sunday off, and then return to practice on Monday and Tuesday before driving up to Dallas on Wednesday, he added.

The lull in games will give the players an opportunity to take care of their bodies for the home stretch of the season.

“Just taking advantage of it,” said Houston junior forward J’Wan Roberts on how he will approach the week. “Get as much treatment cause we know what we are heading into.”

For freshman guard Emanuel Sharp, the break will offer an opportunity to recalibrate.

“It’s a good mental reset for us and for our bodies too, being able to take this break and just breathe a little bit and prepare for this next stretch,” Sharp said.

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