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AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco: "It's great to see that (Houston) program back."
POSTED: March 11, 2019 -- 12:53 p.m. CDT
During Monday's American Athletic Conference teleconference with the men's basketball head coaches, AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco spoke at the beginning of the teleconference to share his thoughts on the AAC this season. Commissioner Aresco was asked about the Houston Cougars men's basketball program and the success Houston is enjoying this season (29-2 overall, 16-2 in AAC).
Aresco attended Thursday's Houston - SMU game to present Houston with the conference trophy. At that time, Houston had clinched at least a share of the conference title. With Houston's win over SMU Sunday, Houston won the AAC title outright.
"They're really good," Commissioner Aresco said. "Some of our coaches have said they're Final Four good. I don't want to jinx them. That's the last thing I want to do. They're really an outstanding team. They play great defense. They have playmakers. People that can score when necessary. Obviously, Corey Davis has been phenomenal. They have a number of really good players. They're extremely well coached. Kelvin knows how to get the most out of his team. They came heartbreakingly close last year to making a real run in the (NCAA) Tournament. They're going to want to do so this year. They'll, obviously, be a formidable foe in our own tournament; and, then, in the NCAA Tournament. I don't know what seed they're going to get; but, they deserve a high one that's for sure.
"But, it's great to see that program come back," Aresco continued. "I was there Thursday. I was able to hand out the regular season trophy; and, the arena is just spectacular. Tilman Fertitta has done a phenomenal job helping out Houston athletics; and, the arena is one of the nicest I've seen. It's perfect size for them. The people are now invested in the program. The students are (invested). The people in Houston are (invested).
Aresco compared Houston's turnaround to the turnaround the SMU Mustangs enjoyed a few seasons ago.
"He (Coach Sampson) did what SMU did several years ago," Aresco remarked. "Except he had the benefit of the incredible pedigree that this Houston program has. We're waking up the echoes so to speak now with the great team that he has. And, this is going to continue. He's built a program now. When Rob Gray graduated, you might have thought 'Well, there'll be a fall off.' because Rob was such an integral to their success. This just proves that he has a real program; and, that's what we've been looking for in this conference."
The Coogs' next game is Friday, March 15, vs the winner of the first round AAC match-up between 8-seed USF and 9-seed UConn, at 11 a.m., on ESPN2.
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