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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: "we talk about what's in front of us not what's ahead of us"

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November 27, 2018 -- 10:30 p.m. CST

Wednesday, November 28, the Houston Cougars men's basketball team faces UT Rio Grande Valley (5-3), at 7 p.m., inside H&PE Arena on the campus of Texas Southern University.

In addition to Wednesday being Game Day for the Coogs (4-0), tomorrow is also the day Houston sophomore big man Fabian White Jr. will go to the doctor to see if the Jones' fracture in his left foot has healed enough for the doctor to clear Fabian to resume playing basketball.

Coogs' Head Coach Kelvin Sampson believes Fabian (and the team) will receive good news.

"Tomorrow, he's going to get his CT scan," Sampson said. "I would think he'd be out here working out Wednesday. And, then, we'll just get him into shape. I don't know if he'll play Saturday; but, I would think he would be able to play next Wednesday (Tuesday, December 4, versus Lamar), maybe. Probably have him on a minutes restriction because he's been out for so long. Got to get him into a little bit of shape. Check him in: seven or 8 minutes here; seven or eight minutes there.

"We won't know until tomorrow. Literally, he goes for his CT scan tomorrow."

Sampson says Fabian's foot healed slowly; but, people heal differently.

"It was a slow healing foot. Galen (senior guard Galen Robinson Jr.) had the same surgery a week earlier (in June); but, Fabian is almost 6'8" and 230. Galen is 6'1" and 190; so, that's 40 more pounds on a foot.

However, if Fabian is not cleared to play, Coach Sampson will not risk Fabian's health nor Fabian's future for the team's success.

"I think we're going to get positive results on him (Fabian) this time. Again, we probably could have played him last time (start of this season); but, his foot is way more important than our basketball program. So, we just said, 'you know what - put that thing in there thirty more days and let's see. If you can't go, then, let's talk about redshirting or whatever we need to do for you. I never worry about our program that way. We're going to have enough kids to throw out there and play a game."

Saturday, December 1, is a big deal for University of Houston Athletics: the $60 million Fertitta Center will host its first event when the Coogs face the Oregon Ducks at 8 p.m. (ESPN2).

But, Oregon is the Coogs' opponent on Saturday. The Coogs have a game Wednesday, November 28. Coach Sampson and the players are focused on November 28th. Period.

Any sense, from the team, looking past UTRGV and looking ahead to Oregon Saturday?

"No. Better not," Sampson said matter-of-fact. "I haven't talked about it.

"We have a little thing on our team we talk about what's in front of us not what's ahead of us.

"I had to remind some administrators, 'We got a game Wednesday! I don't care about that (Saturday). I'm not a fan. I'm not an administrator. I'm a warrior. I'm in the arena. I'm fighting.

"Radford beat Notre Dame. IUPUI beat Boston College. I can go down the list and give you fifty examples why you better be ready to play.

"Most people don't know what they don't know. They look at the name of the team and say, 'Oh, we'll kill them.' Well, I'm sure Notre Dame fans thought that. I'm sure Boston College fans thought that. I saw Boston College beat Minnesota last night; and, I saw, 'Wow! Boston College is pretty good.' Well, IUPUI beat them. Vanderbilt is supposed to have their best team in I don't know how long; and, Kent State beat them last night or two nights ago.

"But, there's at least 50 of those examples. But, this is college basketball. It's not college football. There's a big difference. There's not 85 scholarships (college football). We all got 13 scholarships. There's a million guys out there that are 6'5" and under that are really good players; and, everybody has got some.

"So, if you don't come ready to play, we're not a top 10 team in the nation; top 15 team in the nation. We're not even ranked; so, looking ahead, not happening."


Coogs' center Chris Harris didn't play in Saturday's 76-62 win over BYU due to a sprained left ankle. His status for Wednesday's game is uncertain.

CLICK HERE for news and info about the Coogs' men's basketball team.

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