(SportsRadio 610) - Cougars senior guard Marcus Sasser has been waiting for this journey for more than a year.
After learning his season would end prematurely in December 2021 due to a left foot injury, Sasser had to watch his team’s run from afar and eventually fall in the Elite Eight to Villanova.
Teammate Tremon Mark also watched from the sidelines a year ago after a season ending shoulder injury that required surgery cut his season short as well.
No one is 100 percent at this stage of the season, but Sasser and Jamal Shead, who has been dealing with tendinitis in his knee, are grinding it out and looking for a third consecutive Elite Eight appearance.
As far as the groin injury that kept Sasser sidelined for much of the Cougars' first-round victory over Northern Kentucky, Sasser is encouraged by the results he’s seen from treatment.
"I’m getting better day by day," Sasser said. "I’m trying to get as close to one-hundred percent as I can."
After playing just 14 minutes in round one, Sasser played 31 minutes in the Cougars' 81-64 win over Auburn last week, scoring 22 points including five of his nine shots from beyond the arc.
After foregoing the NBA Draft last year, choosing to return for his senior season, Sasser isn’t going to let pain deter him from helping his team this season when he felt helpless last season during the tournament.
Advancing to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight tournament is an opportunity, but nothing to celebrate yet.
“It’s a blessing you know, it just shows you all the hard work kind of paying off, Sasser said. “This is not the end goal. We’ve got some more games we’ve got to go out there and win, but it’s part of the process.”
Come game time on Friday night ahead of their matchup with Miami, Sasser said his groin won’t be perfect but it’ll be close.
“I should be at least ninety, so I should be real close to a hundred,” Sasser said. “My explosiveness, getting it back. I’ve been doing a lot of stretches and weight stuff just getting it strengthened back up.”
The Cougars'star senior credits head basketball trainer John Houston for getting him back up to speed so quickly to help extend his season.
“He’s a lifesaver really,” Sasser said. “He’s been with me 24-7 you know, just getting me right, coming up here doing treatment two or three times a day. I couldn’t thank him enough.”
When told about how thankful Sasser was for the training staff's efforts and the work Houston had put in, the long time UH trainer was taken aback.
"Wow, it was just a groin injury,” Houston said smiling. “It still is a groin injury, I don’t know about life. Marcus is a great kid."
Shaun Bijani has spent the last 16 years covering the Houston sports scene for SportsRadio 610. Follow him on Twitter @ShaunBijani.
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