A Look At The AAC

The UH/AAC Report: Coogs win ugly as other AAC teams stay dominant

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The Coogs won a game in which they were outperformed. There were also some dominant performances by other AAC heavyweights. Here's what Week Eight in the AAC looked like from my point of view:

UH outlasts UConn

In a game in which they were outperformed in every statistical category except turnover margin (+1), the Coogs managed to beat the Huskies 24-17. I don't give a damn how ugly it looked, but winning on the road against a conference opponent in what some may deem as a "tanking" season is still impressive to me! After dad was caught pitching a fit on the sideline, Young Holgorsen threw a 58-yard bomb that proved to be a game-winning score at the end of the 3rd quater. Now 3-4 on the season (1-2 in the AAC), they only need three more wins for bowl eligibility; something that was unfathomable a few weeks ago.

Other key results

SMU 45, Temple 21: The Mustangs stayed undefeated by totally dominmating the Owls. They outgained the Owls by 382 yards behind Shane Buechele and Reggie Roberson's unstoppable connection.

Memphis 47, Tulane 17: The Green Wave were mauled by the Tigers' Kenneth Gainwell and his record-breaking performance. Add in Brady White throwing five touchdown passes, and it was a recipe for disaster.

Cincinnati 24, Tulsa 13: The Bearcats pulled out a win to advance to 6-1 and stay ranked (#21). Had it not been for five turnovers, the Golden Hurricanes could've pulled off an upset.

Stars of the week

Shane Buechele, QB, SMU: He completed 56.6% of his passes, but threw for 457 yards and six touchdowns. His day was made easier because...

Reggie Roberson Jr., WR, SMU: ...had eight catches for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He made Buechele's job much easier because he was wide open most of the day. Great performances by both guys.

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis: Gainwell became the first Memphis Tiger ever and the first FBS player since LA Tech's Troy Edwards in 1997 to have 100+ yards rushing and 200+ yards receiving in a game. Oh, and he scored three touchdowns as well.

Games to watch this week

SMU @ UH

Tulane @ Navy

UCF @ Temple

Players to watch this week

Logan Holgorsen, UH: Perhaps it should be Clayton Tune who should be here. Either way, the quarterback play for the Coogs will be critical this week if they look to knock off the undefeated Mustangs.

Malcolm Perry, Navy: Coming off a record-setting performance they gave up to Memphis' Gainwell, will the Midshipmen's Perry be able to put up ridiculous stats as well?

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: Speaking of Gainwell, will he be able to repeat or come close to repeating last week's performance this week against the Golden Hurricanes?

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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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