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Kelvin Sampson 2021 Amid celebration. UH coach remembers his late .

Kelvin Sampson 2021 Amid celebration. UH coach  remembers his late .

Kelvin Sampson 2021 Amid celebration. UH coach remembers his late .

Kelvin Sampson Kelvin Sampson Amid late … celebration, coach his remembers UH

Tue, 30 Mar 2021 08:00:00 -0700

Kelvin Sampson paused from celebrating UH's pot in the Final Four to remember his

As UH coach Kelvin Sampson celebrated his team’s Final Four berth Monday, his thoughts flashed to his parents, who died in 2014 before he took the Cougars’ helm.

INDIANAPOLIS — On a few occasions Monday night, Kelvin Sampson paused from celebrating the University of Houston’s spot in the Final Four to remember his parents.

“The guy that influenced me the most that I would give the most credit was my father, John W.

Sampson,” Sampson said after the Cougars’ 67-61 win over Oregon State.

“I wish he and my mother were here to see this.”

Sampson recalled the last time his team made a run to the Final Four, at Oklahoma in 2002.

The night before the Sooners’ Sweet 16 matchup against Arizona, “Ned” — a Hall of Fame high school coach in North Carolina — suffered a brain aneurysm.

“My mother (Eva) and I stayed in the hospital, I think, until 4, 4:30 in the morning, waiting for him to come out of surgery,” Sampson said.

“Then I went back and got with the team and played Arizona that afternoon.

“Then he didn’t get to go to the Final Four that year because of his surgery.

If he could have, he would have.

I wish they were here tonight.

I know they’re looking down.

So that’s a good thing.”

Eva and Ned died within five weeks of each other in 2014, shortly before Sampson would take the job at UH.

Joseph Duarte has been a sports reporter for the Houston Chronicle since August 1996.

He currently covers college athletics, focusing on the University of Houston.

Previously, he wrote about the Houston Astros from 1998-2002, Houston Texans from 2002-05 and the Texas Longhorns from 2005-09.

He came to the Houston Chronicle as part of an internship through the Sports Journalism Institute in 1995.

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Kelvin Sampson Kelvin Sampson

Tue, 30 Mar 2021 08:00:00 -0700

Second-seeded Houston (28-3) commanded a 34-17 halftime lead before the 12th-seeded Beavers (20-13) clawed back

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Oregon State tied a 55-55 ballgame with 

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Kelvin Sampson is back in the Final Four.

After a 2002 appearance with Oklahoma (1994-06), Sampson’s Houston team won the 2021 NCAA tournament’s Midwest Region by holding off Oregon State for a 67-61 Elite Eight victory Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Sampson, 65, was hired April 2, 2014.

Formerly with the Sooners and Indiana (2006-08), Sampson is 167-63 overall and 85-40 against conference play since taking over.

Following a 13-19 (4-14) debut in 2014-15, the Cougars have posted winning seasons every year under Sampson, including three straight possible NCAA tournaments from 2018-19 and now ’21.

Second-seeded Houston (28-3) commanded a 34-17 halftime lead before the 12th-seeded Beavers (20-13) clawed back.

Oregon State tied a 55-55 ballgame with 3:46 left in the second half before the Cougars answered, ending on a 12-6 run.

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Houston’s first Final Four since 1984 lands the Cougars a date with the South Region’s top seed, Baylor, setting up a game at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Bears (26-2) Saturday on CBS.

Until then, here is everything Sampson said had to say.

“First of all, I’d like to congratulate Wayne Tinkle and the Oregon State Beavers for a tremendous year.

What they did the last few weeks, beating Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Loyola Chicago — those are good teams.

Those teams beat good teams.

That proves how good they are.

So hat’s off to Wayne, great guy.

“Kellen and Lauren, my two kids, were born in Montana.

I coached in Montana, and Wayne was a great player at the University of Montana.

When I talked to Wayne before the game, I says, ‘You know who would love to watch this game tonight was Jud Heathcote.’ Jud gave me my start at Michigan State, and Wayne and I are both part of Jud’s coaching tree, so I was thinking about Jud tonight.

“I’m proud of my team.

We were really locked in defensively on what we wanted to do.

Oregon State we knew was going to come back and make a run.

We got a little bit non-aggressive against the one-three-one, but they made it like that.

Not many teams can put a 7-footer at the top of the key and take away your interior pass.

They forced us to go slot to slot, corner to corner, and our guys got a little bit stale, I guess, that thing.

“But I wasn’t as disappointed in that as I was concerned about our defense at the other end.

We kept — they kept gashing us.

We’ve been so good for so long.

When I called the time-out, one thing you have to remind people, young men in these situations, don’t be afraid to fail.

Don’t be afraid to miss the shot.

You certainly can’t be afraid to take it.

“So we put Quentin in that other corner and put him on the same side as DeJon, and we tried to get the ball from (sophomore guard) Marcus (Sasser) to (fifth-year senior guard) DeJon (Jarreau) to (junior guard) Q(uentin Grimes) and see if we can get the shot.

They’re good at running 1-3-1.

We’ve seen 1-3-1s this year, but not ones that look like that.

“But it is not supposed to be easy.

Proud of the kids, proud of the heart, proud of battling through so many things this year, whether it was injuries or transfers or a tough loss here or there.

For this team to be 28-3 and going to the Final Four, this is one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve been around.

And I have this group of players and this staff, everyone on this staff, all the players to thank for it.

I’m glad they let me go along on the ride with them.

It’s been a fun ride with this group.”

“I thought we would win, Joseph.

I thought we could win, I did.

We had to get through the first year.

That was important.

Because then we could start building.

The wins were all pluses that first year.

The losses meant nothing.

It probably cost us a couple games trying to discipline kids.

I remember one kid in particular, I held him out of a few games down the stretch because the thing I told that bunch that year is our program is going to be more important than any of you.

Don’t ever think that you’re more important than this program.

“I’ve always believed that about every program that I’ve been in charge of.

And once we got through the first year, we just started adding pieces, and we did it brick by brick.

We weren’t in a hurry.

We didn’t try to cut any corners.

We did it brick by brick.

The staff — (assistant coach) Kellen (Sampson) was an absolute hoss.

(Assistant coach) Alvin (Brooks), Alvin took care of Houston, and he was significant in building this program.

Once (assistant coach) Quannas (White) got in, we started picking off this kid and this kid.

We said no to a lot of kids because I didn’t think they would fit our culture.

We said no to a lot of kids that people would say that’s a great get.

That’s a great recruit.

I don’t care about great recruits.

That’s not my deal.

I want kids that I could coach, kids that would be coached, that would be able to survive some tough days, some hard days, and I could get them to play for each other.

“So I knew we were going to be on that route, but to get to the Final Four, each year that went by got closer.

I always thought we could, but I had to climb the ladder.

Joe Castiglione, one of my best friends, the AD at Oklahoma, sent me a ladder in a big UPS or FedEx box when I first got to Houston.

I didn’t know what it was.

But he had a letter in there, and he talked about the three consecutive Big 12 tournament championships we won when I was at Oklahoma.

He said, ‘Coach, Coacher,’ he always called me Coacher, ‘I hope you get to use this ladder a lot, University of Houston, and always appreciate the symbolism behind it and how symbolic it is.

“What that means is every ladder represents a step along the way — our academic people who do such a great of putting our kids in position to graduate, our compliance people, our athletic director and his administration, our president, Tilman Feritta, who have supported us financially and helped us gain footing with the rest of the conference, our trainers, our strength coaches, our assistant coaches, managers, players — everybody’s part of the ladder.

We’re all kind of the same.

We’re just part of this program trying to build it.

“Two years ago, we lost to Cincinnati in the conference championship game — a game I felt like we could have won — and then we lost to Michigan, a game I felt like we should have won.

Those games told me we’re getting close.

We’ve just got to keep swinging.

We’ve got to keep getting here.

We’ve got to keep winning.

We’ve got to keep getting kids to believe.

That’s what we did.

We lost to Michigan, and that was a gut punch.

That hurt a lot.

“Then we came back the following year, and COVID hit us, but that team was playing its best basketball at the end of the year.

Quentin was finally comfortable.

Caleb Mills was feeling good.

Fabian (White) had just had 18 points, 14 rebounds against Precious Achiuwa when we beat Memphis.

So I thought that team had a chance to make a run last year until it was taken from us.

“Then we came back this year.

Nate Hinton kept his name in the (2020 NBA) Draft.

Fabian tore his ACL.

Caleb transferred.

We lost Chris (Harris).

We lost four starters.

But the kids that were there believed, and they knew the staff believed.

So we were getting closer.

The teams that were right all year that got most of the credit for being great teams were great teams — Illinois and Ohio State, all those teams.

“But we just kept working and kept getting better.

You know, when the brackets came out, I told our kids, ‘We’ve got a chance to do something special here.

Let’s go 1-0.

1-0 against Cleveland State.

1-0 against Rutgers.

1-0 against Syracuse, and now 1-0 against Oregon State.

Next Saturday we’ll try to go 1-0 again.’ That’s how we approach things.”

“A grad assistant, Myron.

I was 22 years old, and I didn’t know if I was on foot or horseback, and Jud made sure I didn’t know if I was on foot or horseback.

Being a grad assistant for Jud is kind of like being a glorified manager.

I was scared to death of him.

He intimidated me.

He believed in me, too.

I don’t know what it was.

I never would have gotten to Montana Tech.

Jud’s freshman year in college was at Montana Tech.

He helped me get there.

And then Jud graduated from Washington State University.

If it weren’t for Jud, I wouldn’t have gotten to Washington State.

I owe Jud a lot.

“I think what Jud taught me, it’s OK to be unique, be yourself.

A lot of assistant coaches failed trying to be like the guy they work for.

I was a grad assistant, nothing more, but I learned from everybody there.

Magic Johnson was always the first guy in the gym.

I got a tweet from Magic tonight.

We go all the way back to 1978, ’79, ’80, in those years.

“But Jud was unique.

He was a hard worker.

He came from humble beginnings.

His greatest strength was his ability to get the most out of people.

“But the guy that influenced me the most that I would give the most credit to was my father, John W.

Sampson.

“I wish he and my mother were here tonight to see this.

“The last time we went to the Final Four, he had a brain aneurysm the night before we played Arizona in the Sweet 16.

My mother and I stayed in the hospital, I think, until 4:00, 4:30 in the morning, waiting for him to come out of surgery.

Then I went back and got with the team and played Arizona that afternoon.

Then he didn’t get to go to the Final Four that year because of his surgery.

If he could have, he would have.

I wish they were here tonight.

I know they’re looking down.

So that’s a good thing.”

“That’s what it’s all about, Greg.

It’s all about the players.

It’s all about them.

This memory will last them a lifetime.

They’ll tell their grandchildren about this.

Their mothers and fathers, their families and friends were watching them and experiencing it from afar.

But these guys put in the work.

They all had their story.

They’ve all had to battle through adversity to come together as a team.

“We may not have the brightest lights, but our lights shine as bright as anybody else’s because it’s all about team.

DeJon all by himself is pretty good, but he’s a lot better together.

Quentin Grimes, good player by himself, but he’s a lot better together with the rest of these kids.

“We’ve taken a group of kids to get them to believe, and they’ve accomplished something that they will — no matter what happens this weekend, it’s something that nobody can take from them, and they’ll always be known as a Final Four participant.

They played in the Final Four.

They earned it too.

I mean, they earned it.

“It was three games in Ft.

Worth, four games here.

Every season’s going to be ups and downs.

That’s why the 1976 coach (Bobby) Knight team is the last one to go undefeated.

Everybody’s going to lose games.

It’s how you bounce back from those games, and this team did it the right way because they’re high character kids.

High-character kids.

High-character kids let you coach them.

High-character kids overcome adversity, and they’re usually mature.

I have a very mature bunch.

I love them to death.

I’m so happy for them.

They are why you coach.

“It’s been a thrill being with these kids this year.”

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– March 30, 2021

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