ElViento: The Conference USA tournament begins tomorrow at Cougar Field, and one thing is for certain: if Houston can’t beat the Rice Owls on Thursday (for the first time in six chances), their season will be over very soon.
First things first – the Coogs face Marshall on Wednesday. Houston won two of three against the Thundering Herd at Cougar Field earlier this month.
There are complicated scenarios in which Houston could advance to the championship game with a loss to either Marshall or Rice, but by far the easiest way in would be to beat both. In fact, if Houston wins its first two games, it will have clinched a spot in the championship game, and could relax against Southern Miss on Friday.
Head coach Rayner Noble has announced that Michael Goodnight will start the Marshall game, and William Kankel will get the nod against the Owls. He has not committed on a Friday starter, which makes sense, given how much more important the first two games are. If those two games are even remotely winnable in the late innings, Noble needs to throw everything he’s got out there.
For all of the disappointments of this season, there is no denying how well the Cougars can play when things are clicking. They swept a trio of Big XII foes at Minute Maid Park, won four of five in California, and most recently defeated a darn good home team in East Carolina twice when their season depended on it.
This kind of reminds me of the feeling that surrounded the men’s basketball team heading into the conference tournament. Despite a talented squad, the season has been a disappointment. So now the team has nothing to lose. So let’s sit back, and see what happens.