Dusty Vandenberg: Adversity is not a problem for these Cougars

Feb 16, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson with guard Tramon Mark (12) near the bench during the second half against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Moody Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Dusty Vandenberg: Adversity is not a problem for these Cougars


The dictionary defines it as a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune. The instance was a college basketball game, and the state was Alabama. Many commentators had said that Houston had the misfortune of being in a second-round game as a No. 1 seed against Auburn, only 110 miles from the Tigers campus. It was a serious situation at halftime being down 10 points. It was difficult for the Cougars to play almost the whole second half with their point guard and shooting guard on the bench with four fouls. Nearly every word from the dictionary definition of adversity applied to the Houston Cougars’ precarious situation Saturday night.

What those talking heads do not realize is that these Houston Cougars are trained for adversity and thrive in adversity.

Oftentimes coach Kelvin Sampson will put a plastic bubble on the rim so neither team in a scrimmage can make a shot, and it’s all about rebounding. The Coogs aren’t discouraged or stunned when shots don’t fall. They’ve seen drills in practice where even a perfect shot becomes a miss. Tramon Mark, known affectionately to Cougar fans as “Tramon March,” absolutely took over in the second half and scored 18 points in the final 10:53 of the game after Jamal Shead had to take a seat on the bench with his fourth foul.

In that same stretch, the entire Auburn roster mustered up only 16 points. Whether it was his half-court buzzer beater against Memphis in 2021 or the putback with the and-one to help secure the victory over Rutgers in the 2021 tournament, Cougar fans know that March is Tramon’s time. Road game hostile crowd. Bring it on. Ten-point halftime deficit. Is that it?

Bring these Cougars a challenge

They will find a way; if not, they will make a way.

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