(AP) – Somebody will be doing a joyful Texas two-step after Baylor and Houston meet Saturday night in the Final Four.
It could be Bears coach Scott Drew, who built his now-mighty program from the ashes of one of the worst scandals in sports history. Led by guards Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague, they've have rolled to their first semifinal since 1950 with the kind of joie de vivre nobody thought possible two decades ago.
Or it could be Cougars counterpart Kelvin Sampson, who has spent more than a decade trying to outrun the “cheater” label hung from his neck during his days at Oklahoma and Indiana. He might finally have done it with this bunch, a mish-mash of overlooked prospects and transfers that have fans fondly recalling the halcyon days of Phi Slama Jama.
Either way, the first Final Four game involving two programs from the football-mad Lone Star State will produce a hoops finalist that stands on the verge of a its first national championship.
“I don't feel like there's a lot of pressure, just knowing all the work we put in,” said Houston guard Quentin Grimes. “I feel like every round we get more confident, the pressure becomes less, because we're supposed to be here.”
That may be true these days. But it certainly wasn't true when Grimes and every other player stepping on the floor inside Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night were beginning their basketball journeys.
It's been 71 years since the Bears reached this point. Seven coaches tried and failed to replicate the success. The last of those, Dave Bliss, brought the program to its nadir: the 2003 shooting death of player Patrick Denney, his teammate Carlos Dotson pleading guilty to the murder, an NCAA investigation and attempts by Bliss to cover it up.
Into that cesspool came Drew, the squeaky clean son of Valparaiso coach Homer Drew, who set about rebuilding a program hit hard by NCAA sanctions. In five years, he had the program back in the NCAA Tournament, and trips to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight became commonplace until finally breaking through this season.