"We used this game as a dress rehearsal and the key for us heading into Friday is to be ready to play with a determination and a toughness."
Houston head coach James Dickey after the Cougars exhibition win over Concordia Tuesday
The Houston Cougars did exactly what was expected of the Tuesday night in Hofheinz Pavilion as they easy dismissed Concordia in an exhibition that was aimed at simply getting the team some game action in preparation for Friday's start of the season.
From the opening play of the game when Concordia had their only advantage of the game, winning the tip-off, it was evident that Houston was simply going to overpower the lesser staffed visitors as J.J. Thompson stole the ball and started the fast break that lead to Leon Gibson first points of the game on a layup.
The team had the opportunity it was looking for in getting 13 players on the court including significant minutes for 10 of them. All of the newcomers to the team including transfers and freshmen were able to get game speed experience except for J.J. Richardson who remains sidelined with a right foot injury.
For Houston getting through the game injury free and getting some valuable tape and experience to learn from and to coach off of in the final days leading up to Friday's season opener was important and that is exactly what they got.
Houston got standout performances from Leon Gibson and TaShawn Thomas who combined for 35 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Their point guard play was also solid getting new point guards Tione Womak, J.J. Thompson and Brandon Morris significant time on the court running the offense in an effort to see who will fit into which role at that key position.
HANDING OUT STARS
F Leon Gibson: Gibson showed sign of being the scorer everyone was looking for when he joined the team. He led all scorers with 23 points and did a great job of finding his role in the offense and settling in. If the Cougars are to be successful this season he will need to make his performance Tuesday night the norm.
F TaShawn Thomas: Thomas showed quickly Tuesday night that the gradual improvement he showed over the course of last season did not stop with the end of the season. He continues to develop not only on the offensive end but on the defensive end as well. Similar to Gibson, he will need to be one of the teams leaders on and off the court for this team to be successful.
G J.J. Thompson: Thompson has improved but still needs to show improvement in the turnover column as he had four last night and now will have competition at the point with the two new JUCO transfers.
IMPACT TRUE FRSHMEN
Two true freshmen made their debut for Houston last night and both are sure to see a lot of playing time this season as their talent level will demand their inclusion. Forward Danuel House admitted afterwards that it was an adjustment from the high school game but still came away with 14 points four rebounds and four assists. Center Valentine Izundu seemed to make the bigger splash as he swung wildly on the defensive end of the floor looking for blocks and had several huge put-backs and an alley-oop down the stretch to ignite the crowd.
Houston gets their season officially underway with their first game of the year against Florida A&M at Hofheinz Pavilion on Friday at noon.