JS - Coach, we are currently 20-6. Please give us your take on this team.
MH - This team has great potential. We just need to iron out a few wrinkles on offense and defense. Our intensity on both sides of the ball has improved. Our offensive rebounding is much better, we are sharing the ball better, and most important of all we have learned our personnel and accepted our roles whether its being a scorer, rebounder or defensive stopper. Now, we just need to stay focused and keep the intensity up the rest of the season.
JS - When recruiting for Houston what are some of the attributes in a player your look for?
MH - We look for kids that have great energy, toughness and high level of skills. Creating your own shots and hitting open shots is a must. It's really hard to play at this level if you are missing any of the things I just mentioned. (Energy, Toughness & Shooting)
JS - What makes a Pender's type of player? Athleticism, Skills, intelligence, etc. ?
MH - Coach Penders loves players that have self-assurance; meaning a high level of confidence and plays with no fear, lots of energy and toughness.
JS - UH is one of a kind university in Texas because it is the only large metropolitan research university in the state. Is this uniqueness an easy sell to recruits in Texas?
MH - What has helped me the most when it comes to recruiting here at UH is the diversity of students. That's the first thing recruits talk about when they start touring the campus. They love the facilities on campus from the Alumni Center which includes the Hall of Fame, academic facilities, weight room, etc. We have gotten great response on The Hof, the new rec center, the campus food courts and the City of Houston. It all plays a part.
JS - How has college basketball recruiting changed since Guy V.? Is national recruiting the norm or is local recruiting just as important as it ever was?
MH - I have always believed that recruiting a player at home has got to be a top priority. The difference now is you not just dealing with players and parents. You are dealing with a lot more. Mom, dad, sister, cousins, neighbors, high school coach, AAU coach, assistant high school coach, assistant AAU coach, pastor, assistant pastor and then you can start to recruit the player. That is why you have to get the best player to play his position at our level no matter where he is from….in state or out of state. As a recruiter you must not pass on a good out of state player that wants to come to your school. If you pass him up you are not promised to get that top in state player. The Golden Rule I have learned from others and from 20 years of experience is "don't lose many – trying to please a few." Good recruiting is all about being wise and making tough and sound decisions. When you know in your heart that a kid has little interest you must move on, whether he is in state or out. I have always trusted my heart and feel.
JS - We have signed a Fall 2009 Class. Would you please give us your analysis on the new signees?
MH - Desmond Wade – Great floor leader, that is an outstanding defensive player and good open shooter. He can really push the ball and has great intensity on both sides of the ball. Small but very tough with a big heart. A winner.
Aubrey Coleman – a scorer that has a great mid-range game and high intensity on both sides of the ball. He is a very good defensive player on and off the ball. Aubrey really knows how to play the passing lanes.
Horace Dixon – plays with energy, great defensive player that is tough in the paint. Runs the floor well – great hands to catch and finish. Can hit the mid-range open shot and very athletic.
Sean Coleman – Very good 3-point shooter – passes well. Great understanding of the game. Runs the floor well. Solid defensively and another high-energy guy.
Conclusion – We are very optimistic about our incoming recruiting class. Each kid will bring his own unique attribute to our program. They all fit some type of role we need or will be losing.
JS - Last year we assumed we would be a good defensive team and therefore did not work intensely on defense, then after a couple of games ya'll put them through some tough defensive drills which made that part of their game much improved. The defense has been much better this year. What did you do?
MH - We emphasize defense first and foremost throughout the season. Sometimes it takes a team longer to completely grasp our philosophy from year to year.
JS - How strong is C-USA today? How do you rank them against the basketball power conferences?
MH - C-USA is stronger this season and we hope to get a least 2 bids to the NCAA tournament. We need more hard-sell promotion from the inside.
JS - What role do you play in game day strategy?
MH - I focus mostly on defensive strategies, but assist with all areas of our game plans for opponents. During the game I try to make sure that the players play with focus and intensity for 40 minutes or more.
JS - Will we be ranked at the end of the season?
MH - Our soul goal is to make it to the NCAA Tournament. Being ranked at the end of the season is a possibility. We must not lose any more games at this point.
JS - With the resurgence of the old perennial powers like Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette and UNLV, is this the year old perennial power (UH) goes dancing?
MH - We have a great opportunity. We must stay focused and keep our intensity at a high level on both ends of the floor.
Thanks coach for spending time with our fans today. Good luck in the tournaments.