Sampson says the summer trip his club took to Italy proved invaluable, not only for the cultural experience and team bonding but also for sheer hoops value. “The four games are nice, but the big advantage of those foreign trips are 10 practices,” said the just turned 64-year-old Sampson. “We tried to stretch them out.
“Senior leadership had a lot to do with our success. So it’s not just replacing numbers. It’s replacing a multitude of things.”
With the Nov. 9 exhibition game against Angelo State, followed by the Nov. 13 season’s opener vs. Alabama State still nearly a month away, there’s still plenty of time for Sampson to get the Cougars ready. He’ll put together a rotation between holdovers Jarreau, Hinton, Harris, lone returning starter Fabian White, Cedrick Alley and Brison Gresham along with newcomers Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser and have them ready to roll by then.
It’s all a part of what he considers almost a civic duty. “Our basketball program belongs to a lot of people,” Sampson explained. “We’re the participants.