Instead of rehashing the Rockets for the millionth time I'm going to talk about something else.
All the time, I hear people tell me that they like college basketball more than the pros.
"The college kids play the game the right way," they say. Or "The pros are too professional so it takes the fun out of the game."
Well, I get that to a certain extent. But as someone who has rooted for the Rockets since he was 5 and didn't stumble upon college ball until he was a few years older, I can tell you that college basketball never fully interested me until I went to college.
Sure, I watched the Duke-North Carolina games, matchups between highly ranked teams, and March Madness. I'm a basketball junkie like most of you here are. The NCAA interested me because it was basketball when the Rockets weren't on.
I did, however, have a college team I rooted for.
When I was 8, my father was a bigshot administrator at Houston Community College (yes, the irony is obvious to everyone). Through his work, he met the deans of admissions of several colleges nearby. One of those schools was Houston Baptist University.
I had never heard of HBU. You probably hadn't until just now. When you say HBU, most people assume you're speaking about a Historically Black University. That's not what HBU is, though it always seemed to have a diverse student body.
Anyway, my dad told the dean that his son was a basketball fanatic and the dean gave him season tickets to HBU's home games. "He says they're in the top 10 in the country!" my dad crowed when he showed me the laminated passes.
I wasn't stupid. I knew HBU wasn't a top 10 NCAA team. I knew the rankings. I had never heard of them, so they probably sucked. In fact, I knew they sucked. But my dad dragged me to a game that meant I would be missing the Rockets. I hated every moment of the car ride and knew Hakeem was going to have a huge game that night just to spite me.
It took roughly 5 minutes for me to fall in love with the HBU Huskies.
For one thing, they were in the top 10, but in the NAIA, not the NCAA (both my dad and I claim a victory on that argument to this day).
For another, they were good. Great ball movement, excellent shooters, and a couple of bigs that could actually post up meant they could beat the snot out of any NAIA that dared show its face in Sharp Gym in front of a capacity crowd of 1,000. They were well-coached and they played incredibly hard on both ends. They shot the 3 ball with a gusto that even in today's NBA might seem crazy.
From third grade into my high school years, I only ever saw them lose twice: once to the team ranked number 1 and once on a buzzer-beating putback that stunned everyone.
Anyway, after dominating their corner of the NAIA for years HBU moved back up to NCAA Division I, where they had been until 1990. E.C. Coleman is probably their most famous basketball alum from that time. He played two seasons with the Rockets in the 70s and earned All-NBA Defense twice during his career.
The Huskies went from destroying teams to getting destroyed. After a transition year where they didn't get many DI teams on the schedule, the Huskies have combined to win 22 games in the last 3 years, with most of those wins coming against schools you've never heard of.
The Huskies do have a feather in their cap these days: they are 2-0 against Rice University in the last 2 years, with a chance at a third straight win in the series coming tonight at Sharp Gym.
Tonight, while a listless Houston Rockets squad takes on their Southwest Division rival 4-14 Pelicans, the Huskies will be grateful for life in NCAA Division I. They'll understand the importance of beating a crosstown rival. They will play like it matters. Hustle won't be an issue. Missing a few threes won't matter. Players-only meetings will never be suggested. They'll be well-coached and will try to show their home crowd that they are the best private university show in town.
And that is all anyone, even an 8-year-old kid, can ask.
Rockets tip-off is tonight at 7pm CST.
Pelicans vs Rockets coverage
P.S. If you're starved for Rockets-Pelicans analysis, here you go: Anthony Davis is really good. He blocked 9 shots yesterday. The Pelicans are struggling even more than the Rockets, if that's even possible. This game is almost assuredly going to be ugly.