Oct. 16, 2012
The Cougars entered last season looking for another postseason run before a variety of injuries dampened their chances, including five Cougars that went down for the entire season.
With the return of fifth-year senior Porsche Landry leading the way, Houston looks to get back to its winning ways in 2012-13 under Todd Buchanan, and the third-year head coach is optimistic about their chances.
"Obviously last year didn't come close to what we had hoped or what our goals were, but you can't live in the past and you have to move on," Buchanan said. "We get a clean slate for the 2012-13 season and we're all very optimistic and excited about it, especially with 10 new players on the roster."
Buchanan, the 2011 Conference USA Coach of the Year, hopes this year's mix of veterans and talented newcomers will pay off, as the roster features seven upperclassmen, including four transfers, and six freshmen.
Buchanan's third squad at Houston may also be the deepest with the most size, as the team averages nearly six feet with 10 players standing at 6-0 or taller.
"Going into year three we have by far the deepest team that we've had," Buchanan said. "Even in the 2010-11 season, we never got any further than an eight-player rotation. We're more athletic overall and team depth should be a strong point for us, and that gives us as a staff a lot more flexibility to play at an up-tempo pace and do more things defensively."
Along with Landry, returners Tasha Tubbs (senior), Mae Woods (junior) and Terran Alford (sophomore) are back along with transfers Destini Texada (senior), Marissa Ashton (junior), Yasmeen Thompson (junior) and Te'onna Campbell (junior).
Houston's backcourt will once again feature arguably the top player in C-USA as Porsche Landry was granted another year of eligibility following her season-ending injury in just the third contest of the 2011-12 season.
The speedy 5-1 point guard, who ranks third among active players in C-USA with 345 career assists, is a perfect fit in Buchanan's up-tempo style of play, averaging 15.4 points per game in 35 contests compared to just 9.0 points per game in her first two seasons. Landry demonstrated her ability to take over a game in the season-opening contest against New Mexico State last year, rattling off a career-best 37 points.
"My heart's full again," Buchanan said. "Just to watch her walk around and smile and be happy and healthy again is good for everyone around here. When you're as good of a person as she is, much less a player, you never want anyone going out that way. For her to be able to come back for a true senior year and be able to help with such a young group and be their leader and coach on the floor, I'm really excited."
Landry is joined by fellow senior Tasha Tubbs, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in the same game last season. Tubbs came to Houston from Howard College where she was a big-time 3-point threat, and impressed coaches with the work she put in during the offseason following her injury.
Palmer comes to Houston as a highly-touted recruit from La Marque High School, where she averaged 19.7 points per game as a senior and was named Galveston Daily News' Most Valuable Player. At six-foot, Palmer will be utilized to create mismatches and has the skillset to play positions one through four, depending on the opponent. Palmer has great shooting ability and can create her own shot, which will come up big in the Cougars' pick-and-roll and transition game.
Smith joins the Cougars after starring at Cedar Hill High near Dallas, where she earned District 5-5A Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors as a junior. The 5-8 point guard will back up Landry, but could also share the backcourt with the senior at times because of her ability to shoot and create opportunities off the dribble.
Winslow, the daughter of former Houston men's basketball great Rickie, joins the Cougars from nearby Bellaire High where she was a District 20-5A First-Team selection. Winslow can serve as a third point guard, which Buchanan hasn't had the luxury of having in his first two seasons. The 5-7 combo guard possesses good athleticism and quickness with an ability to shoot the ball, while excelling as an on-ball defender.
The Cougar frontcourt features a mix of veterans and underclassmen with great size, which was sorely missed last season. The only returners in the post are sophomore Terran Alford and junior Mae Woods, while transfers Destini Texada, Yasmeen Thompson, Marissa Ashton and Te'onna Campbell will all look to made immediate impacts.
Alford was thrown into the fire as a freshman, starting in 27 of the 29 contests played while averaging 3.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest. In just her third collegiate game, Alford tied a school record with 20 rebounds and finished the season with the eighth-most rebounds (166) and blocks (25) among freshmen all-time at Houston. Alford fought through a knee injury during the offseason but has shown no ill effects and has continued to work on becoming a better finisher around the basket.
Woods, the tallest player on the squad at 6-4, is back for her third season following a sophomore campaign that saw her average 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds while ranking seventh in league play with 1.4 blocks per game. Woods has spent the offseason getting stronger and has developed into a more confident player.
Texada spent her first two collegiate seasons at Houston Baptist where she averaged 10.2 points and 6.9 rebounds over 57 career games and will become eligible for her final season on December 22. Texada brings much-needed athleticism to the three and four positions and has developed the ability to step out and shoot the three.
Ashton, a 6-0 forward, spent two seasons at Texas Tech and is viewed as a game changer by the Houston coaching staff after sitting out the 2011-12 season. Ashton can provide mismatches on the perimeter or on the post and will be utilized in "pick-and-pop" situations where she will be isolated to knock down the perimeter shot, which she has worked hard to develop.
Campbell comes to Houston after earning NJCAA Second-Team All-America honors as well as WJCAC Player of the Year accolades at New Mexico Junior College. The 5-10 forward is extremely athletic and could be a major contributor from a production standpoint. Campbell has the ability to guard positions one through four and can create mismatches for the opposition.
Thompson rounds out the veteran post players after transferring from Paris Junior College, where she averaged 8.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest. The 6-2 native of Philadelphia, Pa., excels on the defensive side of the ball and is a strong rebounder. Thompson will allow the Cougars to take more chances on the perimeter as she can protect the lane and basket with her shot-blocking ability. Thompson also excels at running the floor in transition and can also pop out and knock down the perimeter shot from eight feet.
Amerson, the District 16-4A Offensive Player of the Year at Rudder High, has impressed the Houston staff so far in the preseason and could make an immediate impact at positions two through four. The 6-1 forward has the ability to defend the post and also play out at the perimeter and has shot the ball well during workouts.
The depth at the post position will also receive a huge boost with the addition of 6-2 twins Taylor and Tyler Gilbert. Tyler earned District 23-5A Most Valuable Player honors as a senior after averaging 16.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game, and brings a dominant post presence with her skill set. Tyler has the ability to be an elite shot blocker and rebounder and can drive to the basket from 15 feet out as well as play with her back to the bucket.
Taylor will play more with her back to the basket and can also come off a screen from the high post and be productive from 12 feet. Taylor also has the ability to be a strong rebounder while also using her length and athleticism to stretch the defense in transition.
Sixteen home games and eight contests against postseason teams from a year ago highlight the 2012-13 slate for the Cougars.
Buchanan has put together another exciting and challenging non-conference schedule that features four contests against teams from the Big 12 and SEC. Houston will face three non-conference opponents that reached the postseason in 2012, while eight of the 13 non-league contests will be played at Hofheinz Pavilion.
"We've continued the trend of putting together a tough non-conference schedule that should pay dividends for us down the road," Buchanan said. "Playing a schedule of this caliber is how you become a top-25 team, and we hope to reach our goals of returning to the national rankings and NCAA Tournament this season."
For the second-straight season, the Cougars play host to 16 total opponents at Hofheinz Pavilion, tying for the second-most all-time. Houston opens Conference USA play on Jan. 10 against Memphis in the first of seven league contests against winning teams in 2012.
The Cougars open the 2012-13 campaign with back-to-back contests against SEC opponents, traveling to face Mississippi State on Nov. 9 before opening the home slate against Alabama on Nov. 13.
Houston then takes to the road for a pair of rematches from last season, traveling to New Haven, Conn., for a meeting with Yale (Nov. 17) before facing a McNeese State (Nov. 20) squad that posted a 26-8 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
For the second-straight season the Cougars will host the David Jones Classic with contests against Southeast Missouri State and Northwestern State on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24. Houston began the David Jones Classic last season honoring the late assistant coach (1999-2006), who is also the father of Cougar great, Chandi Jones.
The Cougars continue their four-game homestand with two more rematches from last season, facing UTSA on Nov. 27 and New Mexico on Nov. 30.
Houston then travels to Fort Worth for its yearly meeting with TCU on Dec. 2 before returning home to play host to 2012 NCAA Tournament participant Creighton on Dec. 8.
The Cougars return to action following final exams on Dec. 22 to host Texas State and travel to Lubbock on Dec. 30 to take on Texas Tech to end 2012.
Houston tips off 2013 with its final non-conference contest against Delaware State (Jan. 6) at Hofheinz Pavilion before opening its final season of Conference USA action on Jan. 10.
This season's C-USA Championship will be held in Tulsa, Okla., on March 13-16.