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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Kelvin Sampson: "I think the better our conference is the more 20 games helps you."
UPDATED: October 15, 2020 -- 10:01 a.m. CT
POSTED: October 14, 2020 -- 12:49 p.m. CT
Tis the season. The college basketball season. Today is the first day of fall practice for college basketball teams for the COVID-19 influenced 2020-21 college basketball season. Kelvin Sampson, Head Coach of the Houston Cougars men's basketball program, had a media session to discuss the upcoming season.
This season, the American Athletic Conference decided to increase the number of conference games for its 11 members to 20 games. The increase is 2 for the men's basketball teams and 4 for the women's basketball teams.
"I think our schedule is complete. We just haven't released it, yet. I'm not sure we have all the contracts in. The thing that we're all waiting on is conference schedule. We're going to go from 18 to 20 conference games and two of those games will be in December."
Coach Sampson likes the move to 20 conference games.
"I'm a big proponent of the 20 (20-game conference schedule) because you're less likely to have cancellations or postponements in conference play because we're all under the same medical protocol," Coach Sampson acknowledged. "With nonconference games, I think it can get a little bit dicey. 'What is the school that's coming?' 'Where are they coming from?'
In addition to participating in a multi-team event in Orlando, FL, in November which includes Texas Tech, Gonzaga, and Auburn, the Coogs are also scheduled to play Alabama (on the road), Rice (at home), South Carolina (at home) in the nonconference. Rice is one of Houston's 2 nonconference opponents who are a bus trip away.
Regarding the bus trips for Rice and the other yet-to-be-named nonconference foe, Sampson said, "If something happens and we'll have to aid in the testing protocol, we could do that."
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Coach Sampson believes a 20-game conference schedule could be beneficial going forward beyond this season -- with a caveat.
"I think the better our conference is the more 20 games helps you. If the conference isn't as good, then, I think you're better off using your out of conference games to boost up your NET rating. So, the better our conference is the more it makes sense to have 20 games like the ACC, for instance, that's a 20-game conference.
"Look at their conference. Every game is a Quad 1 game. The more Quad 1 games you have; for instance, a determining factor for me in playing in the tournament in Orlando with those guys is win or lose our they're all Quad 1 games. And, if you have NCAA Tournament aspirations, scheduling like that helps you.
"I spend a lot of time with scheduling. This is my seventh year (at Houston); and, every year we've had a great schedule. We've had the right schedule every year. We've never not scheduled the right way. Like this year. This is a good schedule. Next year's schedule will be the right schedule whatever it is. It'll be the right schedule; so, we really pay attention to that."
The Coogs' season is scheduled to begin Wednesday, November 25.
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