Kelvin Sampson Has Spoiled Me

Yeah, I admit it. I’m spoiled.

UH Basketball won another game by 20 points on Tuesday in New Orleans, yet I was never comfortable. The Coogs jumped to a 13-point lead in the first half, and it looked like things were coming together for another blowout. However, Tulane responded, cutting it to 7, then UH pushed it back up to 12.

Back and forth they went but then Tulane cut it to 8 on a four-point play before half. Kelvin Sampson said after the game that there was a mistake in a time-and-score situation. After getting a rebound, Tramon Mark was supposed to pull it out, and Kelvin would have called his use-it-or-lose-it timeout.

Instead, Tramon went back up with it, Tulane blocked his shot, and came out with a rebound. On the other end, Mark was called for a phantom foul on a made three, and after the free throw, the 12-point lead was eight. Still, I felt pretty good about the game: Marcus Sasser “only” had 6 points, and Jarace hadn’t scored and had three turnovers. I knew that would change.

Sasser came out of the half possessed and scored eight straight, and UH had built it to a 15-point lead. With Sasser heated up, this game felt like it was in the bag…until it wasn’t. UH went dry, stuck on 53 points, as Tulane whittled away at the lead.

The Green Wave cut it to five, but intellectually, I knew this was just the second-half run that a home team makes. But another part of me was concerned: a lead evaporating on the road in a packed house with an underdog starting to believe in itself? That’s when I got a little worried.

Jarace Walker finally woke up and scored his first points to bump the lead to 9. Eventually, everyone contributed on the score sheet, and UH started pulling away. Houston finally made Tulane quit when Jarace hit them with the Dream Shake in the corner to go back up by 14. UH would never look back and coasted home with a 20-point win.

Great win, 18-1 and 6-0 in the league and all that, but I was exhausted. Why? I watched the game again on Wednesday, and it was apparent that the result was never in doubt. Maybe it was a little sketchy when Tulane cut it to five, but I shouldn’t have been “worried.” I don’t even think Ron Hunter believed they were in it. So why did I?

Because I am spoiled.

This team is so good, so dominant, that when they aren’t blowing people out, it feels like something is off. That’s not a them problem; that’s a me problem. Maybe it is the #1 ranking. Perhaps it is the 23-point average margin of victory on the season, tops in the country. Perhaps it’s the scoring defense, which is also tops in the country. Maybe it is my desire for a storybook ending, Kelvin and Jamal and J’Wan cutting the nets down in Houston.

Whatever it is, I have to remind myself that this team is exceptional. This team plays every game with a target on their back, and every fan talks about how they could shock the world with a win over this team. But this team never lets up. They never lose their chip.

The sign players see as they exit their locker room at the Guy V. Lewis Development Facility

I have to remember the Penders days when UH played out of their mind against Arizona in 2005 or 2007 against Kentucky, both at Hofheinz. How, for one night, the Coogs took their best shot. And I have to remember that now, Houston is the hunted. They’re getting everyone’s best shot.

Seasons like this don’t come around often, as older Cougar fans know all too well. They were around for Phi Slama Jama and maybe even Elvin and Don Chaney. And then they wandered through the darkness for 35 years. So I have to realize that this ride may never happen again, and I have to enjoy the ride as much as possible.

Kelvin really has spoiled me.

 

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Brad Towns
Brad Towns
Towns is a former UH athlete, having played baseball for the Cougars in the mid-90's. He is most famous for walking 9 LSU batters in just 3 innings vs. LSU. He also fired a 2-hit complete game shutout of SFA.
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