Grambling State Tigers (0-0) at Houston Cougars (0-0)
Saturday, November 12th, 7:00 PM Central
All-Time Series: Houston leads, 3-0
It may be hard to believe that the Cougars compete in any other sports besides football right now, given how much hype is surrounding that program. (And deservedly so.) But a Cougar basketball team with high hopes in year two of coach James Dickey's tenure opens its season on Saturday evening as it takes on the SWAC's Grambling State.
The SWAC is annually one of the worst Division 1 basketball conferences, and the Tigers went just 8-10 in conference play a year ago, so even if Houston's bevy of newcomers struggle in their first official game, this isn't an opponent who figures to give the Cougars a lot of trouble.
Here are your three things to watch for on Saturday:
1. Joseph Young - Point Guard or 2-Guard?
With all the hyped recruits coming in this year, it may be hard to choose which has Cougar fans the most excited, but the answer might just be Young, former best player on the best high school team in the country, during his time across the street at Yates. And while Young's long range shooting ability, and overall scoring touch is unquestioned, one aspect of his game that remains to be seen is whether he will play the point, or shooting guard position.
A follow-up question would be, if it's not Young, who will play the point for the Coogs? Possibilities include senior Darian Thibodeaux or versatile junior college transfer Jonathon Simmons.
2. Can the Cougars dominate the boards?
The Cougars don't have much proven experience in the front court. Junior Kirk Van Slyke and sophomores Alandise Harris and Mikhail McLean are all back, but none of the three have really proven themselves in big minutes yet. Newcomers TaShawn Thomas and Leon Gibson have plenty of talent, but have no Division 1 experience. This will be a question mark throughout the year, but it would sure be a good sign if the Coogs can decisively beat a smallish GSU team on the boards.
3. How good is the defense?
DIckey wants to hang his hat on defense, something Houston fans would love to see after that area of the game wasn't heavily emphasized under previous head coach Tom Penders. But the Cougar D was a mixed bag in year one, and much like with the rebounding, one would hope that the defense can at least put the clamps on a Grambling State squad that doesn't return a 5 point per game scorer from last year.