Houston Center disappeared in Game 1 after saying he wanted the Warriors

Capela Needs to be Big for Rockets to have a chance

Clint Capela. Getty Images

Clint Capela Jason Miller

Clint Capela wanted to meet up with the Warriors in the playoffs this year. He said as much when he spoke to the media after the Rockets eliminated the Utah Jazz. He also was the one who said that the Rockets were the better team after Golden State eliminated Houston in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals last season. You have to love the confidence the young center has in his team, but with that boastful and cocky attitude must come performances that back it up, or at least contribute to his team's success.

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You most certainly wouldn't want to be a -17 while on the floor with only 4 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes on the floor, while the combination of Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney combined for 2 more points and the same amount of rebounds in 6 fewer minutes of game time.

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Clint Capela needs to dominate down low if the Rockets have any chance of making this a long series, let alone winning it. When you compare these two teams that know each other so well and look at matchups where Houston should have an advantage, you immediately point at the center position. Golden State lost their all-star big man in the first round against the Clippers when DeMarcus Cousins went down with a serious quad injury. He was a force down low for the defending champions, and once he recovered from his torn Achilles tendon suffered last season, he was the dominating post presence that the Warriors lacked and gave them an element that they hadn't before had in the "Splash Brothers" era. In his last appearance against Capela and the Rockets in the final meeting between the two teams in the regular season, Cousins could not be stopped and was their go-to guy down the stretch as he put Capela on skates and scored multiple key baskets in the paint to close out the Golden State victory. He finished that game with 27 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists in 32 minutes of action, while Capela had 13 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes on the floor. It's pretty simple when you look at that matchup in this series, with Cousins out, Capela should be able to dominate the paint defensively and clean the glass, while running the floor for easy baskets in transition against the slower and less skilled Golden State reserve bigs. After one game, that was obviously not the case.

Rockets Clint Capela Houston Rockets/Facebook

We all know that Clint Capela is not an offensive powerhouse who gets his numbers scoring down low with a plethora of moves in the paint. The good news is he doesn't need to be with the system and team he has around him. Capela is at his best when he gets involved in pick and roll basketball with James Harden and Chris Paul that leads to lobs at the rim and dunks in the lane. He is an elite athlete at his size so when he gets out in transition there are not many big men in the NBA that can keep up with him. Most importantly he is an above average defender that has length and size to alter shots around the basket, he can defend on the low block and he rebounds at a high level even when the game is played at a very fast pace. We have all seen the numbers by now and know that when he is on the floor doing those things and playing alongside Harden and Paul, the Rockets are a championship caliber basketball team. When he doesn't, they may not be good enough to get out of the second round let alone beat the Golden State Warriors.

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10th-ranked UH looks poised for a great season

Here's why UH could make a deep tournament run

The Coogs are off to a hot start. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Through eleven COVID stricken weeks, the University of Houston football team has mustered three wins.

The UH men's basketball season began on November 25th. It took them five days to catch up.

The Cougars came into last week ranked 17th in the nation in the AP preseason poll, the highest they've begun a season in 37 years. They took little time to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the nation.

UH shot out of the gate last week to a 3-0 start, including a double-digit win over 14th ranked Texas Tech. That, combined with a myriad of week one upsets, sent the Cougars soaring even further up the rankings.

By Monday afternoon, Houston was already one of the top 10 ranked teams in the nation.

Now it's important to note that it's incredibly early in the season, and there is plenty of time for something to go haywire. With TDECU stadium right across the street, they've had a front row seat to see just how sideways COVID can flip a season. The football team may only have 3 wins, but that's partly because they've had to postpone 5 games.

Regardless, they remain 10th in the nation at the moment, and it's no fluke. This is a solid team that has shown glimpses for the past three years.

Led offensively by sophomore guard Marcus Sasser (17.3 ppg) and Kansas transfer guard Quentin Grimes (16.0 ppg), the Cougars field a deep backcourt that has received welcome early contributions from freshman Tramon Mark (14.0 ppg) who's already earned an average of 19 minutes per game.

Speaking of minutes, UH brings one of the most important skills to the court this season: experience. In the era of one-and-done turnover among NCAA programs, the Cougars bring back four players that averaged over 20 minutes per game last season. That type of experience playing with one another and understanding the system head coach Kelvin Sampson plays could prove invaluable come tournament time.

What truly gives this team a shot though is their defense and hustle, both of which are a direct result of Sampson. They're simply relentless on defense. After finishing 11th in the nation last season only allowing 62.1 ppg, they've shown no signs of letting up. Through their first three games they've given up an average of 52 ppg. Even with double-digit leads, this is still a team diving for loose balls and mixing it up for offensive rebounds.

All of those ingredients make for a very salty, and very entertaining college basketball team. The Cougars have proved in the past three seasons that they're legitimately tournament worthy, and as the preseason American Conference champion favorite, this is a team that could—and should—have their eyes set even higher than their sweet sixteen appearance in 2019. Nothing is certain in the COVID era, however, but if they can make it through the season relatively unscathed they should be a tough out during March Madness.

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