Van Chancellor: As disappointing as it ended, UH gave us a heck of a ride

Mar 24, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Cougars forward Jarace Walker (25) reacts during the second half of an NCAA tournament Midwest Regional semifinal against the Miami Hurricanes at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Van Chancellor: As disappointing as it ended, UH gave us a heck of a ride

 Van Chancellor is a former head coach of women’s programs at Mississippi, LSU, and the Houston Comets. He won four WNBA titles with the Comets, won a Gold Medal as an Olympic team coach, and reached five Elite Eights and a Final Four in college basketball.

Friday night’s game with Miami was a tough pill to swallow. Make no mistake, the Cougars had a great year but came up just short against a red-hot Miami team.

In losses, sometimes it is because you didn’t play well; but I thought Houston just caught a Miami team playing really well. They got off to a quick start and shot 11 of 22 from the 3-point line. Miami’s speed and rebounding made for tough matchups for the Cougars.

My hat is off to coach Kelvin Sampson, his staff, and his players. They gave the city of Houston and all Cougar fans a reason for great pride and anticipation as this season played out. Good thing there is always another year. The Cougars will mount a comeback, and Mack will have another promotion to add to the excitement of March Madness.

Madness is a good name for it, with so many closely contested games and unlikely teams playing on. There are not any No. 1 seeds still playing for the first time in tournament history, which speaks highly to the parity of the game.

Houston will be missing a freshman phenom next year, as Jarace Walker revealed after the game he was declaring for the draft. Marcus Sasser came back for his senior year, and he, too, will be joining Walker as a first-round pick in the draft. First-round picks have guaranteed money.

Looking at other games, I was really surprised to see that Alabama was eliminated. San Diego State now looks like they may be in a good position to come out of the South Region. Florida Atlantic keeps advancing with great shooting in the East Region. You can’t advance today without being able to knock down the 3-pointer. I like Texas for the Midwest Region, and UConn showed their strength in the West Region.

At this time of year, as a coach, you are getting your team ready and focused and preparing for your opponent as best you can. There are no days of practice and detailed scouting reports to learn. Teams that advance have a “nothing bothers us” attitude – referees, bad luck, or a poor shooting start. The further you advance, the more the pressure mounts, and the teams that advance play together and forget the pressure of the moment.

Our Cougars have given us a season of enjoyment, and we wish the best to those that are moving on. However, we look forward to the team Coach Sampson will put on the floor next year and will wear with pride our Cougar colors as we gear up for another run to the championship.

Thanks for the memories, guys.

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