UH hoops optimistic for a better year

Both the men's and women's basketball teams at the University of Houston are feeling good vibes for an improved season.

The men are coming off a 13-19 season in Kelvin Sampson's first year as their head coach, but along the way, there were moments to be optimistic about. UH defeated UConn at home last year and had a four-game winning streak towards the end of the season before getting eliminated in the AAC Tournament by Tulsa.

"We just weren't very good," Sampson said of last season. "I think a lot of people were waiting for us to get good. We didn't have the capability of being good, but that was more of a personnel thing. As my grandmother would say, bless their hearts. They tried hard, but we just weren't good enough. This team's going to be good enough.

"Last year doesn't compare to anything I've ever been through in my life, but this year, we were able to go out and recruit a team," Sampson continued. "Instead of just recruiting guys to fill out a roster, we recruited guys to help us win games."

Sampson was forced to play guys out of position a year ago. Now, with more depth and with more of his players on the roster, he feels more comfortable with saying this year should have progress in the process.

"It's going to take awhile for this team to learn how to win," Sampson said. "But as a lot of us old guys like to say, this team's got a lot more material."

As for the women, they were 6-24 a year ago. Ronald Hughey has brought aboard several newcomers from schools such as USC and Oklahoma State as well as players who have put up big JUCO numbers to bolster the roster. So far, he likes what he sees in the practices. And it has him aiming to have the same standards as the very best.

"We have the standard in our conference in UConn," Hughey said. "I'll say 'UConn, UConn, UConn, UConn' 200 times a practice so they'll understand (UConn's) set the standard and (UConn's) reached the standard almost every single year and we're climbing. So our vision is that. That's our vision and we're going to surpass that. It might not happen now and we're going to be competitive this year, but years down the road, I'm telling you - with the classes that we're getting, we're going to compete with everybody. And 'national championship' is not out of the words for the University of Houston."