Making the move from one conference to another results in a variety of changes for a basketball program. Of course there’s recruiting to be considered, with those making a step up in competition facing the need to reel in better talent. There’s also the need to ensure that the facilities are up to par, with practice courts and arenas factoring into the decisions made by recruits.
Houston’s needed an upgrade in the facilities area for a while, but things are changing under new head coach Kelvin Sampson. Tuesday morning the school announced plans for a new $25 million development facility for its basketball programs with construction beginning this week and due to be completed next August. The facility will be located adjacent to Hoffheinz Pavilion, where the men’s and women’s basketball teams play their home games.
“I am proud and grateful that our administration recognizes how important this is. UH Chancellor/President Dr. (Renu) Khator and (athletic director) Mack Rhoades have made a commitment to make our program better. When you are playing in a conference with the defending national champion and other tradition-rich programs, we need to have competitive advantages like this facility will provide,” Sampson said in the release.
“Teams become better from October to March. For players to get better, it has to be from March to October. We will have a place where our players can practice, workout, shoot, develop chemistry and improve their work ethics. They can do this, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with this facility.”
The facility is big news for Houston basketball, with Sampson beginning the process of rebuilding a men’s basketball program that prior to their NCAA tournament appearance in 2010 hadn’t reached the Big Dance in nearly 20 years. There’s a lot of quality basketball talent in the Houston metropolitan area, and if this facility can keep some of that talent home Sampson will have a chance to improve the Cougars’ standing in the American Athletic Conference.
The next step for Houston once the practice facility is completed: spruce up Hoffheinz.