• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Houston’s March Madness hopes may possibly possibly come down to Sasser wellness


Mar 18, 2023

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — For most effective-seeded Houston, any hope of winning a national title may possibly possibly come down to Marcus Sasser’s ailing groin.

Not to be concerned, Sasser stated Friday.

He’s certainly playing in the Cougars’ subsequent NCAA Tournament game.

“It’s not a game-time choice no further,” Sasser stated, sitting at his locker in Legacy Arena, the quite identical spot specifically exactly where the outlook seemed so a lot bleaker a great deal much less than 24 hours earlier. “I actually really feel fantastic. I actually really feel superior. I actually really feel common.”

The All-American guard pulled himself out of a actually tough-fought victory a lot more than 16th-seeded Northern Kentucky in the March Madness opener, casting essential doubts on his status for a second-round game Saturday against Auburn.

Specially when Sasser stated afterward that the discomfort felt “around a seven out of ten.”

But the groin felt superior just just before he went to bed. When he awoke, it seemed just fine.

Sasser now wonders if he was becoming a tiny also cautious considering the fact that he didn’t want to threat a further essential difficulty.

“When I initial woke up, I walked about and I didn’t actually really feel no discomfort,” he stated. “I was like, ‘I’m going for specific.’”

But Sasser conceded that the larger stakes of the game certainly had an impact on his choice. He in all probability would’ve believed of sitting out, just to be on the safe side, if this was a meaningless contest in December.

Groin injuries can be notoriously tricky when attempting to figure out if an athlete is fully recovered, which prompts trainers to be in unique mindful to the threat of reinjury.

“This a win-or-go-dwelling game,” Sasser stated. “I’m going to go out and give it my all. You genuinely do not know when your final game is. Plus, this is my final year of college, so I certainly want to go out with a bang.”

Coach Kelvin Sampson didn’t express any regrets about starting Sasser five days following he injured his groin in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, saying he left the choice in the hands of the education staff and his star player.

“It’s not the initial injury I’ve dealt with,” Sampson stated. “I deal with his injury like I’ve dealt with just about each injury of any kid we’ve had for 34 years. It is up to him and the trainer. I do not make any options. They say, ‘Why did you play him?’ I didn’t. I play him if he’s wholesome, if the trainer thinks he can go and the kid thinks he can go. I trust Marcus.”

Sasser didn’t sound all that hopeful following playing a great deal much less than 14 minutes against Northern Kentucky. He scored five points — proficiently beneath his group-top rated 17.1 standard — and didn’t return following halftime.

He stated the discomfort returned in his groin when he went up on a jumper, the final of only three five shots he attempted on the evening.

Sampson stated it will be up to Sasser to figure out how a lot of minutes he plays against Auburn.

“He’s our most powerful player, I know that,” Sampson stated. “But I do not treat him any distinct than I treat any one else if they’re injured. ′

Point guard Jamal Shead stated he didn’t have any doubts that Sasser would be ready to play against Auburn.

“I was very confident he’d play. It is win or go dwelling now, and he’s a difficult dude,” stated Shead, who has been bothered by a sore knee. “If this was our final game collectively and he didn’t play, that would haunt him a tiny bit.”

Sampson conceded that the Cougars are a distinct group when they do not have Sasser top rated the way in the backcourt.

That was evident in the way Houston struggled against Northern Kentucky, which came in as an 18 1/two-point underdog but was tied with the Cougars five minutes into the second half.

Houston (32-3) eventually pulled away for a 63-52 victory, but it hardly looked like a group that can make a deep run in the tournament with no the require of Sasser.

“The group we had on the floor is not the group we played (most) occasions this year,” Sampson stated. “Everybody sort of shifts about and you have to reassign roles, all that stuff.”

Sasser was injured final Saturday in an AAC semifinal victory a lot more than Cincinnati. He didn’t play the following day in the conference championship game, merely watching as the Cougars had been upset by Memphis.

Sasser got the subsequent two days off, and only did a light exercising the day just just before the NCAA opener. Shortly just just before tipoff against Northern Kentucky, he was announced as a starter.

In retrospect, it seemed like the incorrect move.

But Sasser felt it was essential to get back on the court as promptly as achievable, “just to have that game feeling when once again.”

“I felt like it was a optimistic and a damaging,” he stated. “I was back out there on the court, moving when once again, moving full speed, and it sort of gave me self-assurance for tomorrow’s game.”


AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-most effective-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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