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Kelvin Sampson: "The thing that helps me, more than anything else, is the returning players."

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POSTED: November 8, 2019 -- 10:04 a.m. CT

Teams, individuals, and businesses that are successful for extended periods of time have worked to establish a winning foundation; a winning mentality; and, a winning culture. Under Head Coach Kelvin Sampson's tenure, the Houston Cougars men's basketball program has developed a successful culture.

"Every day that I walk in that door (of the Guy V Lewis Development Center) and walk upstairs, my job is to uphold, sustain and maintain our culture we've built here," Coach Sampson said. "The thing that helps me, more than anything else, is the returning players."

Listen to Coach Sampson's players in interviews. At some point during an interview, the players will mention the 'culture' or say 'It's all about our culture.' or 'We have to maintain our culture.'

Houston junior forward Fabian White Jr said, "The past veterans kind of helped us acclimate to the culture; and, once we did that, we kind of took off from there."

Fabian defines Houston's culture as this: "You gotta be tough. You gotta be built different. You have to be able to get yelled at. You've got to be able to rebound. Play defense - even when you're tired - to a high level. And, you've got to play your heart out."

Coach Sampson said, "(Sophomore) Nate Hinton will look at (freshman) Marcus Sasser and say, 'That's not the way we do it here.'

Sampson added, "Or, (juniors) Brison (Gresham) or Dejon (Jarreau) will look at (freshman) J'Wan (Roberts) and say, 'Hey, this is the way this thing works around here.' "

"When you have a program that's successful," Sampson continued. "The key is the returning players holding the new players accountable and showing them this is the way things are done here. And, I can see that. And, that's why our practices are the way they are."

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Nate Hinton added, "For this program, Coach keeps reminding us that the culture has to be established. Year after year you have to recruit guys that uphold the culture. Learning from the other guys, the veterans that have come back it's our job to teach the new guys how to maintain the culture and keep pushing because the culture is over everything. People come and go."

"The culture of the program works," Hinton summarized.

Though Hinton is about to begin his second season at UH, Coach Sampson says Hinton has assumed a leadership role (as a vocal leader) on this year's team. Hinton took what he learned during his freshman season from seniors Galen Robinson Jr, Corey Davis Jr, and Breaon Brady.

"Being a sophomore, and being a team of veterans from last year, I kind of had to grow up a little bit," Hinton acknowledged. "But, the leadership of Galen, and Corey, and Breaon, and the older guys. We had a lot of rough days together of trying to adapt to each other. During the road games, a lot of times they comfort everybody and everybody kind of leaned towards those guys and do what they do. So, right now, what I'm trying to do is, not be them; but, take the lessons I learned from them and Coach Sampson and trying to lead the guys that haven't been through the things that I've already been through. Like I've already been through it."

Hinton continued, "The leaders that have been here last year; so, a tough practice is about being tough. Coach Sampson, he preaches it every single day. You're either tough or you're not; and, playing in this program you have to be tough."

Listen to national media who have followed and covered Coach Sampson's coaching career. Toughness is a constant description of a Kelvin Sampson-coached team.

"We know that toughness is part of what the culture is; so, we try to preach it every single day," Hinton commented.

"I know the culture last year; so, we have to uphold the culture this year.

"We'll still be the same hard-nosed, gritty team. Maybe a little bit more swagger. We're confident in the system. We're confident in the culture; and, the younger guys they're right there with us."

Houston hosts Angelo State in an exhibition game Saturday, November 9. Tip is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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