The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 25, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Wins, losses heavy weight in athletics

MORGANTOWN — It has been with us for as long as man has kept score, this idea that in the games people play there is a winner and a loser.

But what does that really mean, winning and losing, and how does it affect the competitors?

Think, if you must, at this moment of West Virginia University basketball, of a Final Four team just a few years back and of now, a .500 teams struggling just to keep its head above water. Think of the way it affects the way you feel, about the way it affects the way you behave, your actions and thoughts while watching a game,

Then try to translate that into what the athlete and the coach must feel, as fully invested and involved as they are in the performance and outcome each time they take the floor.

It is something that we have long addressed it, as far bad as 1953 when UCLA football coach Red Sanders offered this though to his team.

“Winning isn’t everything,” he said. “It’s the only thing.”

And if that was for the ears of the competitors, ABC-TV in the heyday of its signature sports show “Wide World of Sports” promised that it would show us the “thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.”

Until Wednesday night when a thoroughly dreadful TCU basketball team came into the Coliseum, West Virginia’s Mountaineers had lost three straight games, but they pulled this one out, making it a perfect time in inquire of those involved just how it differed, the feeling that comes with winning as compared with losing.

“In all honesty, winning has become kind of expected and losing is excruciatingly painful,” coach Bob Huggins offered, not surprisingly to anyone. “My dad quit because the losing affected him so much. Go back and look; he played an 18-game schedule usually (without playoffs) and averaged 20 wins a year for his career, so he didn’t lose very much.”

Yet it got to him so much that he retired prematurely.

Jabarie Hinds is a sophomore guard. He has not really experienced the big-time victories at WVU yet; still he understands that winning offers things that you don’t feel when you lose.

“A win is a win. It don’t matter how you get it. It’s a good feeling,” he said.

And losing?

“When you lose, the locker room is down. There’s a lot of, ‘We shoulda did this,’ or ‘We shoulda did that,’” he said.

If that was all there was, it would not be quite so bad, but losing invades all areas of a player’s or coach’s life.

“To be honest, we lose I don’t want to go to class. I don’t want to show my face … but it is what it is,” Hinds said.

And if the team wins?

“If we win, I’ll go anywhere. It’s a good feeling.”

Deniz Kilicli is a senior. It’s his final season and it was born with great hope, yet now he is on a team that is no better than .500, a team on which he has not performed at his highest level, and he is willing to be honest about the emotions that gnaw at him.

“Right now, to be honest, I can’t even get happy,” he said, following the victory over TCU. “We are 9-9. This doesn’t do anything to us. I’m not happy with the season, but it’s all our fault.

“The mindset is, win or lose, it really doesn’t change how we look at stuff. Next day, we have to go hard. I think to go to the NCAA Tournament we have to win 12 or 13 in a row.”

With a senior, the NCAA is the cherry on top. No senior wants to end his career playing in a tournament other than the NCAA or, worse yet, not playing any post-season at all.

But what of a freshman? What of a young player in his first year who individually is getting better with each passing game, a player like Eron Harris, who has scored in double figures in his last three outings and had 19 against TCU?

“Being a competitor, you get mad at things, especially if you have a big part in the game, gave up a big bucket or missed some shots that affected the outcome. You’re mad,” he said of losing. “You are just looking forward to the next game to improve. You go into practice to attack, and you look forward to the next game so you can fix the problems.”

And, he notes, that winning can’t change that same attack attitude.

“You can’t get too high or too low. When you win, you have to keep the same hunger you had when you lost. That’s something we have to learn to do,” he said.

Terry Henderson, another freshman who has had some big moments, understands what Harris speaks of.

“When you win, you will feel much better in the morning, but we have to come out the next day and play or practice just as hard,” he said. “The prime example was Texas. We had a great win there and came back and lost. It’s all the mental aspect of the game for us. We still have to work on that, because everyone on this team is not perfect. I think once we get it going we should be good.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads