KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Houston women’s coach Ronald Hughey knows he and his Cougars have a tall order ahead of them this season — competing in the Big 12.
He and his players talked about that challenge during Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday at T-Mobile Center.
Hughey has been at Houston for a decade, but this is the program’s first in a high-major conference for basketball. BYU, Cincinnati and UCF also join the league this year.
Hughey said their culture and their trust as a team is going to help them make that transition.
“We trust, protect and empower each other,” Hughey said. “That’s our culture. We’re gonna be the best conditioned team in the country. On top of that, we’re gonna have the ones that toughest mindset.”
That mindset should serve the Cougars well. But, there’s another mindset, one that is, well, a little savage, honestly.
“The thing that we’ve adopted this year is we eat what we kill,” Hughey said.
Metaphor aside, Hughey said he’s adopted the mantra after watching nature videos on YouTube with carnivores like hyenas and lions.
“I think that’s a great scenario for us just because we’re out to prove a lot of people that we belong,” Hughey said.
The Cougars aren’t completely unfamiliar with the Big 12, in that some of its former Southwest Conference mates — Baylor, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech — are in the league. In fact, Hughey referenced that during his comments on Tuesday, too.
“We have a chip on our shoulder just because in Houston, remember we were in the Southwest Conference and then they kicked us out and we went to Conference USA and we went to the American and now we’re back,” Hughey said. “So it’s something prove every single day. It’s about earning respect.”
Houston is coming off a 15-16 season in 2022-23, along with a 10-5 record in the American Athletic Conference last season.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.