Cougars Make It to the “Big Dance”

by Shawn Lindsey

Cougar BasketballAfter 18 years, the Houston Cougars didn’t sit this dance out. Choreographed by a four-game winning streak and the Conference USA tournament title, the Houston Cougars (19–15) managed to two-step their way to the NCAA Big Dance, two points at a time.

“We kept believing and kept the faith through all of the struggles that we had this season,” said national scoring leader and UH guard Aubrey Coleman going into tournament play.

In 1992, the last time the Cougars played in the NCAA tournament, the team’s oldest member, Sean Coleman, was only 5 years old; freshman forwards Bryce Clark and Kendrick Washington were not more than 13 months old. This team knows how special it is to take this program back where it belongs.

“To know that from now on everyone is going to know us, the 2010 Cougars, as the team that won the Conference USA championship and took Houston back to the NCAA tournament, that’s amazing,” says junior guard Adam Brown.

The Cougars earned a No. 13 seed in the first-round Midwest Regional matchup against No. 4 seed Maryland in Spokane, Wash., where they fell 89–77. Head coach Tom Penders resigned a few days later, saying he had achieved his goal of returning UH to the NCAA tournament and looked forward to the challenge of building another program.

Coach Joe Curl and the UH women’s basketball team joined the men in postseason play, traveling to Lubbock to play Texas Tech on March 18 in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. Though suffering a defeat, the 2010 WNIT berth put the Cougars back in postseason for the eighth time in program history. Curl took the program to new heights, but also resigned after the season, citing ongoing health issues.

For Cougar basketball fans, it may have been a long time coming, but most dances are worth the wait.

Coleman Scores Big

by Thomas Campbell

Coleman

Senior guard Aubrey Coleman is a leader, but not just of his Houston Cougars basketball team. Coleman leads the nation in scoring.

A complete player, he also ranked in the top 10 in steals and pulled down an average of 7.4 rebounds per game.

“Aubrey is one of the finest kids, both on the floor and off the floor, that I have had the privilege to coach,” says Tom Penders, who resigned as head men’s basketball coach at the end of the season. “He is an exemplary student-athlete in all ways.”

Coleman often made basketball look easy — but making it to the University of Houston was a bumpy road. After graduating from Gulf Shores Academy in Houston, he enrolled at Southwest Mississippi Community College. It was there that Coleman’s unrelenting work ethic paid off, earning him scholarship offers to universities across the country. His choice: the University of Houston.

“I’m able to hug my mom and sister after the game, and it feels good to see a smile on their faces,” Coleman told NCAA.com.

“He put in hundreds and hundreds of hours before we even practiced,” Penders told the NCAA. “I’ve been doing this for 36 years, and he has, without question, the best work ethic of any player I’ve ever had.”