In order to give us preview of who the Terps are facing on Friday, I was able to procure the services of Phillipe Craig, the sports editor for the The Daily Cougar.

First off, how happy is everyone about the Cougars’ Conference USA Championship?
Well, I think people down here are more surprised than anything else, and with good reason. That being said, there isn’t a lot of excitement and I think that has to do with where the game is being played and how long people had to wait (Saturday to Friday). I think people are cautiously optimistic and that seems to be tempering the excitement.

Tell us a bit about Houston’s style of play
UH runs an offense that is very guard driven and oriented. The Cougars like to drive and kick out quite a bit and don’t really have a traditional half-court offense. The ball is in Aubrey Coleman’s hands more often than not, but he has the ability to turn from a scorer to a facilitator in just one possession. Still, it’s a gimmicky kind of offense.

Aubrey Coleman is the leading scorer on this team. What are his strengths?
Aubrey’s strengths are his ability to penetrate and finish around the basket, more than capable of hitting the mid-range jumper and and excellent passer and rebounder for a guard. He is also an excellent defender and led the nation for quite a while in steals per game. Aubrey has also improved his 3-point shooting and has to be respected from behind the arc

Assuming the Terps can slow down Coleman, who needs to step up for Houston?
If Coleman is neutralized, then the majority of the scoring will need to come from Kelvin Lewis. He is more than capable of picking up the slack and is an excellent outside shooter as well as a shut-down defender. Inside, Maurice McNeil will need to step up and guards Zamal Nixon and Adam Brown will be key. If they are hitting their shots and not turning the ball over, Coleman’s lack of scoring could easily be offset.

What do you see as Houston’s answer to defending Greives Vasquez?
The key with Vasquez will be to make him work on every possession. Do not allow him to get the ball early in the possession or where he’s comfortable. It’s much easier said than done

What do you see as the key for Houston if they are to beat Maryland?
Capitalizing off of Maryland’s turnovers, keep their own down, avoid foul trouble and defend the paint at all costs. The Cougars will also need to make someone other than Vasquez beat them.

Prediction: Maryland wins 72-68.