Van Chancellor: Whether you’re a receipt-holder or not, Friday night’s game vs. Miami will be a thrill

Jan 22, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Jim ÔMattress MackÕ McIngvale leads the crowd in a cheer before the game between the Houston Cougars and the Temple Owls at Fertitta Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Van Chancellor: Whether you’re a receipt-holder or not, Friday night’s game vs. Miami will be a thrill

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.

The dream is still alive for Cougar fans and for those holding on to their receipts for their furniture purchases. Coogs Win, You Win – quite a combo if you ask me. People that haven’t stepped inside a gym since their high school physical education class are now glued to their TV sets, cheering for every Cougar basket.

Those fans couldn’t have picked a better year to allow men’s basketball to pique their interest. We
have a home team in the streaking Houston Cougars that embody all that is good in a team – toughness, togetherness, and a never-give-in attitude. UH is striving to cut down the nets at NRG Stadium as the confetti falls on April 3, but die-hard fans have also enjoyed one of the most thrilling tournaments in years.

Looking at the big picture, we have seen astounding upsets, with No. 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson ousting No. 1-seed Purdue 63-58 and No. 8-seed Arkansas defeating No. 1-seed Kansas 72-71. Close games have been the norm, and no seed is safe, as evidenced by No. 13-seed Furman defeating No. 4-seed Virginia 68-67 after a steal led to a game-winning 3-pointer. With games this closely contested and game-winners galore, it is easy to understand why this tournament has grabbed the interest of fans.

Changes to rules and how the sport is played have helped build parity. Players can now transfer between programs without sitting out a year as they did in the past. The increased importance of the 3-point shot has made it more possible to combat an opponent with more size – and teams are knocking down those 3’s with regularity this tournament.

Houston and Alabama are the only two No. 1 seeds left, and most analysts had picked them for the finals when the tournament began. Both have lived up to their seeding with their play so far. Houston will play a Miami team tomorrow night that features a strong inside presence with Norchad Omier. Omier, a rebounding machine, will challenge J’wan Roberts and Jarace Walker on the boards.

Miami likes to push the tempo, creating high-scoring games in the 70’s. The Cougars will have to step up their defense to hold Miami below its scoring average as they have done to teams in the past. Houston will need a solid performance from its perimeter players, Marcus Sasser, Jamal Shead, and Tramon Mark, to offset Miami’s offense. The game stacks up to be a fast-paced, exciting contest, with Miami wanting an up-tempo game and Houston ready to shut them down.

Don’t miss it on Friday night at 6:15 as your Houston Cougars take the court in Kansas City, hoping
to keep the dream alive. A die-hard Cougar fan or a receipt holder, I promise the ride will be worth your time as the Cougars shut down Miami to SURVIVE AND ADVANCE.

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