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A few good minutes with Houston's Aubrey Coleman

The nation's leading scorer grew up right across the street from the university where he one day would gain a decent measure of notoriety. Aubrey Coleman said he played street ball on courts not too far from the University of Houston, but he never thought he'd end up competing for the Cougars. Neither, it seems, did his mom, Cynthia.

"It's funny," Coleman said Monday afternoon in a telephone interview, "she said she never thought I'd be here doing what I'm doing."

What Coleman is doing is averaging 25.6 points per game and leading Houston into the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years. Houston Coach Tom Penders lauds Coleman for his work ethic and for his mid-range jump shot, but Coleman's game has not always been so smooth. He did not play organized basketball until he was a senior in high school, and he said it took him a while to begin to understand team basketball.

"I always played street ball and you can kind of see it in my game a little bit," Coleman said. "When I started playing in 12th grade, I really didn't understand the concept of playing basketball. I would get charges. I would just run over people and try to dunk on them. That's probably why I didn't play a lot in high school. But when I got to junior college, I was in a situation where I had to learn quick because I was the only player at my position that was from out of state. I didn't want to come all the way to Mississippi and sit on the bench, so I worked on my game real hard and all of the sudden it was like every summer I got better. I got better every summer because I worked on my game and kept working hard."

After high school, Coleman spent a year at Gulf Shores Academy, a prep school in Houston, before playing two seasons at Southwest Mississippi Community College. He then Transferred back to the college program right across the street from home.

When asked why he did not play organized ball until his final year of high school, Coleman provided one reason...

"I guess I just wasn't interested in it," Coleman said. "I always loved to play ball on the street and to draw a crowd, but I never just really focused on playing organized ball. But once I started seeing that I was getting good at it ... I was good in high school, but the coach just would never give me a chance. Like, if I got in the game and somebody scored on me or if I got a foul or if I traveled, he would always take me right out. I was just nervous, you know? I could never get into a rhythm in high school."

... but shielded another. Houston Coach Tom Penders said in a phone interview later on Monday that Coleman has a keloid condition that prevented doctors from allowing him to play for much of his high school career. Keloids are excessive growths of scar tissue that occur inside and outside of the body. Cynthia Coleman, Aubrey's mom, has the same condition, according to Penders.

"I didn't ever think that I was going to end up at the University of Houston," Coleman said. "I could have went anywhere else in the nation, but it was a situation where I wanted to be really close to my family and look after my mom. She's going through a little something, so I just wanted to keep her close to me and make sure I was around. My step-daddy keeps a close eye on her. Everything is good. And I have a little brother and sister that are still in high school, so they check on her. And I go home every so often to check on her."

As for his prolific scoring ability, Coleman said he's not all that caught up with the fact that he's leading the country

"It don't matter if I'm leading the nation in scoring," Coleman said. "If we would have never gotten in the tournament, I would have just been another player that came through Houston that was good, you know? And I didn't want to be labeled as that. People saying you can lead the nation in scoring, but if you don't get to the Dance, it don't mean nothing. And just by us getting to the Dance, that's real big for us and this program."

It certainly was big for Penders, who dealt with nearly constant speculation this season that it would be his last at Houston. Coleman said the players couldn't help but be aware of all the chatter about their coach's future.

"We kind of knew it, but we couldn't really focus on that," Coleman said. "We had to continue to play ball. We just tried to make sure it wasn't a distraction for us because at the end of the day, he's a good guy and us winning is big for him. He's a tough guy. He gets on me the most out of everybody. It don't matter if I didn't do it. He always gets on me. You the reason for this; you the reason for that. My first year I didn't know him and I was like, 'This guy is kind of crazy.' But this year I noticed. I was like, 'Okay, I see how it is now.' He just lets his guards play. He just lets us play loose, you know, and leave it all out on the floor. And that's how we won the (Conference USA) tournament; just let us play loose."

Coleman said the only thing he knows about Maryland is "the point guard," referring to Terrapins senior guard Greivis Vasquez.

"It's the ACC, so it's a big-time conference," Coleman said. "But, you know, we're going to play our heart out and play loose because we don't have nothing to lose, and that's how we went into the conference tournament. And we know everybody's bidding against us, and that's good, you know? We've been the underdogs for so long."

By Steve Yanda  |  March 16, 2010; 9:03 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Video: Gary Williams discusses his March memories

Comments

Dear Washington Post,

Any chance you can hire someone on the Maryland beat that has not alienated most of the fanbase, along with one of the two prominent coaches he is supposed to cover?

We as fans suffer from this poor coverage and continually have to deal with this agenda. Why the article today? Why the 12,000 word agenda piece last February? I feel like I am reading the National Enquirer every time I see Maryland coverage.

Please in these tough economic times realize there are dozens if not hundreds of writers with experience out there that would not always look for the negative and actually provide quality, non-biased information to your readership.

Posted by: S2DU | March 16, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Dear Washington Post,

Any chance you can hire someone on the Maryland beat that has not alienated most of the fanbase, along with one of the two prominent coaches he is supposed to cover?

We as fans suffer from this poor coverage and continually have to deal with this agenda. Why the article today? Why the 12,000 word agenda piece last February? I feel like I am reading the National Enquirer every time I see Maryland coverage.

Please in these tough economic times realize there are dozens if not hundreds of writers with experience out there that would not always look for the negative and actually provide quality, non-biased information to your readership.

Posted by: S2DU | March 16, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Why are you making that comment on this blog post?

Also, are you aware that last February was over a year ago?

Posted by: Lindemann777 | March 16, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Lindemann, it is called a pattern, and I have sent a similar letter to the editor and Mr. Yanda twice without a response.

As someone who has worked in the field of journalism, it is not difficult to spot writing with an agenda behind it.

Posted by: S2DU | March 16, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

This is what I wrote to Yanda:

I thought your piece on MD's graduation rates was very fair. You basically gave Gary the floor to defend the program and I thought he did an excellent job doing so. My only issue is that this study, just like every other highly publicized study on graduation rates for student athletes, is so fraught with errors--and in this case, outdated--that you as a member of the media have an obligation to ignore it. You shouldn't even give this study the time of day.

MD has had an unusually high rate of transfers and each and every one of these players that chose to go to school elsewhere count as NOT GRADUATED. Why? Because the studies authors are too lazy to connect the dots and follow a player from school to school. So Danny Miller graduates from Notre Dame but as far as MD is concerned, he counts as not having graduated. Matt Slanika transfers and graduates elsewhere, but he counts against us. The media should simply ignore this study but because it is an attention grabber during March Madness, and the media is in the business of making money, it gets reported on.

This is a couple years old but still relevant for the time period in discussion.

Chris Wilcox - NBA
Steve Francis: NBA
Laron Profit: NBA and Europe
Obinna Ekezie: NBA and played overseas
DJ Strawberry: NBA, NBADL, and overseas.
Nik Caner-Medley: D-League and overseas.
Drew Nicholas: Europe
Chris Mccray: NBA, NBADL, and overseas
Sarunas Jasikevicius: Europe, Asia and NBA
Matt Kavarick: Law School
Danny Miller - Transferred, got degree
LaRon Cephas - Played in Europe
Mike Mardesich - Played in Europe
Matt Slaninka - Transferred, got degree
Terence Morris - NBA and Europe
Earl Badu - Got degree
Lonny Baxter - NBA
Steve Blake - NBA
Andre Collins - Transferred, played in Europe
Juan Dixon - NBA and Europe
Mike Grinnon - Got degree
Tahj Holden - Got degree
Byron Mouton - Playing in Europe and semi-pro leagues
Drew Nicholas - Played in Europe
Ryan Randle - Played in NBDL, played in Europe


Posted by: Barno1 | March 16, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

LaRon Cephas and Andre Collons played in Europe? They barely played at CP - although I thought Collins transferring out was a huge loss - especially once Gilchrist freaked out.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 16, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

It does seem odd that many of the post articles showing the Terps in less favorable light come out just as recruits are making college decisions....For example yesterday the article about recruiting Abraham (who was expected to make his decision any day now )vs Georgetown and at the bottom of the page is another article about Gary Williams screaming at his players and whether or not it is an appropriate way to coach...Coincidence?

Posted by: TerpfanMA | March 16, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I see University of Houston still doesn't have any requirements for attending English classes.

Posted by: RIP-21 | March 16, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

No depth to the story. For instance, what does Maryland do for its athletes as far as counseling, guidance, and tutoring vs. what other schools do? Many other factors influence the stats - Are graduation requirements different among the schools? Are there differences in how leniently teachers grade athletes at schools? Does Maryland accept athletes with lower GPA's than other schools? I don't see this last as a negative as they are likely better off having attended college, even without graduating, than if they hadn't.

Posted by: booger1 | March 16, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I do not expect to get truth and honesty from the media....They are part of the "entertainment" industry. The negative headline was certainly more eye-catching than "Maryland graduates four seniors this year", or something positive like that. Also, much blame for this attitude must go to ESPN, which has promoted entertainment over sport.

Posted by: tnulta | March 16, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

People who feel strongly about the graduation-rate issue should go comment on Valerie Strauss' latest blog entry, in which she directs her uninformed bile at Coach Gary:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/university-of-maryland/terp-coach-williams-keep-colle.html

Posted by: Lindemann777 | March 16, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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