Sept. 6, 2006
Houston, Texas- - The University of Houston announced its 2006-07 men's basketball schedule that includes non-conference games against Kentucky, Arizona, and UNLV, a trip to the Rainbow Classic and 16 Conference USA games featuring home and home match-ups against Memphis, UTEP, Rice, UCF and intrastate rival SMU on Wednesday.
"This is a very challenging schedule for a lot of reasons," Houston head coach Tom Penders said. "Our non-league schedule has some very tough games and a lot of them are on the road. But, it is the type of schedule that if we do well, we won't have to rely strictly on our league schedule to set up a good RPI. It is tough because not too many schools want to play us.
"When you get to league, we have the toughest conference schedule in the conference with home and home games against four of the top teams. Memphis is probably the preseason favorite, UTEP and Rice will be in everyone's top four , while SMU is expected to be improved with Matt Douherty and UCF has some key players returning.
The Cougars open the season at Rhode Island on Nov. 13. Penders coached the Rams to a NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 1988, and this marks the third time since then he has scheduled his teams to play there.
"It is a tough opening game because they are tough at home," Penders said. "Jim Baron is a good coach and not knowing what they have is a scary situation to open up the season. But, we were fortunate they would play us and it was the only option we had."
The Cougars also play two games against a former Conference USA member when they travel to Saint Louis on Nov. 25 and play host to the Billikens on Jan. 29.
Houston plays its first home game against Monmouth on Nov. 18 and has home games against Grambling and Prairie View A&M on Nov. 22 and Nov. 29, respectively before playing six-straight games away from Hofheinz Pavilion during the month of December.
"People may not know a lot about Monmouth, but they were a very good team last year," Penders said. "They also play a similar style as Sam Houston State. It is a Princeton-type offense is a very tough assignment early in the season."
The Cougars open the road swing at VCU on Dec. 2, before traveling to Arizona on Dec. 17 and playing in the Outrigger Rainbow Classic in Honolulu on Dec. 21-23.
The Cougars open the tournament against former C-USA foe Charlotte in the first round and face either Creighton or Valparaiso in the second round. The other four teams in the tournament are the host school Hawaíi, Nebraska, San Francisco and Wyoming.
"It is quite an honor to be invited to play in the Rainbow Classic because it is one of the most prestigious tournaments in college basketball," Penders said. "It is an extremely difficult tournament, and that is what we are looking for because we want to play some tough teams on a neutral court so that we have the opportunity to get some quality wins and play in some quality games. It is obvious they gave us the toughest draw, but you don't have any choice in that regard."
Houston returns home to face UNLV on Dec. 30 before opening up the New Year at Kentucky on Jan. 3.
"We will be playing one of the most storied programs in the country when we travel to Kentucky and it can only be viewed as a win-win for our program," Penders said. "It will be my first time coaching in Rupp Arena and it is a great venue to play.
"Tubby Smith and Lute Olson are two coaches I have tremendous respect for because they are willing to go out and play people. I am proud that Kentucky entered into a two-year series with us."
The Cougars open the Conference USA schedule on Jan. 11 when they play host to defending league champion Memphis. Houston also plays host to SMU on Jan. 13 before playing at Rice on Jan. 17 and at Tulsa on Jan. 20.
UH returns home to play UCF on Jan. 24 before playing a stretch of playing three games in a five-day span. The Cougars play at Marshall on Jan. 27 before playing home games against Saint Louis on Jan. 29 and Rice on Jan. 31.
Houston opens the month of February with two straight road games against intrastate rivals UTEP on Feb.3 and SMU on Feb.7. The Cougars return home to play C-USA games against East Carolina on Jan. 10 and UAB on Feb.17. In between, Houston plays its final non-conference game against South Alabama on Valentine's Day, Feb.14.
The Cougars play three of their next four league games on the road with games at Southern Miss on Feb.19, at Memphis on Feb.25 and UCF on Feb.28. The Cougars also play host to Tulane on Feb.21 before closing out the regular season with a home game against UTEP on March 3.
Houston will travel to Memphis for the Conference USA Championship from March 7-10.
"We have the opportunity to win games against some very good teams," Penders said. "Hopefully, we can do that, but you can't do it unless you play them. We didn't dodge anyone and were lucky that Saint Louis was willing to play us in a home and home series this year. We were having a tough time getting our last game scheduled. We also scheduled to play most of our home games when our students are here."
University of Houston 2006-07 Men's Basketball Schedule
Date Opponent N 13 at Rhode Island N 18 Monmouth N 22 Grambling N 25 at Saint Louis N 29 Prairie View A&M D 2 at VCU D 17 at Arizona D 21 #Charlotte D 22 #Valparaiso or Creighton D 23 #San Francisco, Hawaíi, Wyoming or Nebraska D 30 UNLV J 3 at Kentucky J 11 *Memphis J 13 *SMU J 17 *at Rice J 20 *at Tulsa J 24 *UCF J 27 *at Marshall J 29 Saint Louis J 31 *Rice F 3 *at UTEP F 7 *at SMU F 10 *East Carolina F 14 South Alabama F 17 *UAB F 19 *at Southern Miss F 21 *Tulane F 25 *at Memphis F 28 *at UCF M 3 *UTEP M 7-10 Conference USA Tournament Home Games in Bold; *-Conference USA Opponent; #-Outrigger Rainbow Classic, Honolulu, Hawaii; - C-USA Tournament at Memphis, Tenn.