While first-year Cougar head coach James Dickey has done an admirable job in a difficult situation, and has a recruiting class coming in next year that has the Houston faithful drooling, Tuesday night's 63-62 home loss to Marshall brings up some questions about the coaching job he is doing.
Why couldn't the Cougars hit better than 19-of-31 from the charity stripe? When you miss 12 free throws and lose by a single point, it's not difficult to find the culprit.
Why can't Houston ever run a good offensive play in crunch time? At the end of the first half, the Cougars called a timeout, and ran nothing resembling a play, en route to not scoring. After the Cougars pulled down a rebound with a 1-point lead and 58 seconds left in regulation, Dickey opted not to use one of his two remaining timeouts, and the Cougar offensive possession came up empty. Literally. Zamal Nixon forced up a three with a hand in his face, and airballed it. This has been a disturbing trend all year.
Why couldn't the Coogs guard Marshall's screens? It wasn't even as though the Thundering Herd were running complicated multiple screens or anything. It took one player setting a pick for one other player to leave Houston's defense bewildered. This led to a parade of Marshall dunks and lay-ups.
I understand that this team is severely short-handed, for a number of reasons that are out of Dickey's control. But there were a number of coach-able mistakes that were made against Marshall, and it cost Houston the game.
Maurice McNeil had 16 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort. Freshman Alandise Harris got to the line a stunning 20 times, but ended up with "just" 16 points. Herd freshman DeAndre Kane paced all scorers with 24 points.