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After Elite Eight Loss, Sampson Swears Houston ‘Here To Stay’ – CBS Baltimore

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Houston didn’t participate in the NCAA Tournament, but the Cougars look built to last as a power show for a long time.

Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson promised just as much.

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“We’re not going anywhere,” Sampson said. “We’ll be back.”

With the arrival of the Final Four last season and a rebuilt roster that almost made them available again, Sampson’s show is more than just reviving Clyde Drexler and Hakeem’s Phi Slama Jama memories. Olajuwan.

Saturday’s 50-44 loss to Villanova in the Southern Division final is going to sting for a while, especially given how it plays out during a slugfest match that leaves a raucous crowd in “” home” disappointed. But there are new expectations and new energies around the show that will seek to produce national championship contenders every year.

This week, Sampson said he wants players and fans to respect the past, glory as under coach Guy Lewis and the talent of Drexler and Olajuwan, but live in the present and look to the future. Olajuwan joined the match on Saturday.

Houston fought hard to first rekindle those memories before new ones could be built. The university was left in the cold as the old Southwest Conference disbanded and historic rivals left the Big 12 and the Southeast Conference. A bunch of trainers and outdated facilities make it awkward.

66-year-old Sampson changed that. He revived the show and his own career. He led Oklahoma to the Finals in 2002 before taking over at Indiana, where he was fired, then eventually landed in Houston.

A steady rise over eight seasons with Sampson taking the Cougars to the Round of 16 Sweet first in 2019, then the Finals last season. But last year’s team lost four games and Sampson had to rebuild his squad, only to lose two of this season’s top players to injury.

The Cougars returned to the Elite Eight behind young guard Jamal Shead and transferred Taze Moore, Kyler Edwards and Josh Carlton. They challenged larger opponents throughout the season with tight defense and refused to back down on college basketball blueblood shows in the NCAA Tournament.

The defensive effort helped Houston get the goal in the game against Villanova when no shots were successful. Cougars twice recovered from a double-digit deficit and trailed within two points.

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But they were killed by 29.8% of overall shot attempts, including 1 out of 20 from 3-point range.

“We missed wide shots, lacked saves, lacked free throws,” said senior striker Fabian White Jr. speak. “The struggles we’ve been through all year have finally torn us apart.”

The Cougars won the U.S. Athletics Conference’s regular league and tournament championships, then gaining strength through their first three NCAA games. Another Finalist was also there to appear in front of a huge audience of red-shirted Houston fans who made the 200-mile drive to the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

“Just really proud of this team, everything they’ve accomplished. Ten years from now, 20 years from now, they’ll be back home and showing their kids those banners on the wall, and they’ll remember this with love and pride,” said Sampson.

“The first time we came to Houston, we couldn’t invite anyone to come see our game, the students, anyone,” he said. “Now look at us today.”

Sampson will once again have to replace many people starting from this Elite Eight team. Given what Houston has done this year, there’s no reason to think the show will take a step back.

Houston will phase out the mid-large branding it carries in the AAC when it joins the refurbished Big 12 over the next few years. That will ultimately mean more money and more television exposure. Sampson promises to run even deeper in the tournament in the future.

“Cougar basketball is here to stay, man,” he said.

By JIM VERTUNO AP Sports Writer

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https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/03/27/elite-eight-loss-sampson-vows-houston-here-stay/ After Elite Eight Loss, Sampson Swears Houston ‘Here To Stay’ – CBS Baltimore

Jake Nichol

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