The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

February 24, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Bad season has turned embarrassing

MORGANTOWN — In the end, West Virginia’s embarrassing 73-57 loss to Oklahoma State at the Coliseum will be forever carried away in bits and pieces of ineptitude by the 10,038 fans who wasted their Saturday afternoon by coming to the game.

It will come back to them, just as it will to coach Bob Huggins and to his players, in nightmarish flashes that would bring forth laughter were they not so much a sign of a bad team that seemingly didn’t even care about losing its 14th game among 27.

The statistics, of course, tell you why they put themselves in a situation where they reside below .500.

You don’t win basketball games shooting 30.2 percent. You don’t win basketball games with seven assists and 17 turnovers. You don’t win basketball games playing the second half like you’d rather be off skiing somewhere.

Put bluntly, this basketball team has become an embarrassment.

That is a strong statement, yet it is one they admit to, right from the coach on down.

“I’ve been embarrassed since the first game,” Huggins admitted, thinking back to a 34-point loss at Gonzaga that included 20 turnovers. “I don’t get beat like that. My guys played so hard, competed so hard we never ever got beat like that … ever.”

Yet this team got beat like that the first game out of the gate.

And it really hasn’t shown much improvement, nor has it shown much embarrassment to the coach.

“They don’t seem to,” he said, when asked point blank if he thought they were embarrassed by their performance.

He would not offer publically why he said that, but he said he had reasons for feeling that way.

The truth more than likely is that the players who should be embarrassed really don’t feel that way while the few players who have put forth effort, who have tried to figure out what is wrong and make it right … they feel embarrassed.

Kevin Noreen is one such player.

“Absolutely,” he answered. “People expect excellence and we’re not providing that. It’s hard to go to class. It’s hard to walk around here. There’s nothing right now that we can hang our hats on.”

Nothing.

And it isn’t one person’s fault or two or three. It’s damn near everyone’s.

What images will the fans take with them from this game?

There was Juwan Staten’s alley-oop pass on which Aaric Murray neither alleyed nor ooped, the ball sailing out of bounds.

There was a pass from Deniz Kilicli to Noreen, where Noreen wasn’t. In all, Kilicli had four of the 17 turnovers.

Then there was the shot clock violations.

That’s plural.

“When you’re down, you have to score. It has to go up one way or the other,” said Matt Humphrey, the transfer who was expected to help putting points on the board but spent most of the year battling shoulder problems. “We had a couple of shot clock violations. At some point, one of us has to go get the ball and try to score. No one wants to get a shot clock violation.”

How can you have a shot clock violation trailing by double figures?

But the most vivid memory of what was wrong came on a play that turned out not to be a violation.

Oklahoma State had the ball and the shot clock was ticking down and, as always, the student section was a few seconds ahead of it, trying to make the shooter rush.

“Six … five … four … three … two …” they chanted.

Off balance, nearly standing out of bounds, the Cowboys Le’Bryan Nash threw up a pray, far short.

The students started laughing at him, seeing as there were five seconds still really left on the clock when he shot the ball.

Did it matter?

Not at all, Brian Williams jumping up and tipping the short shot toward the basket, the buzzer going off just as the ball went through the hoop.

Huggins was amazed.

“The shot clock is running down, they are falling out of bounds and they heave one up. You think we would block out. No. They catch it and lay it in and we are standing there watching it,” he said. “That is not playing.”

   “We can’t run a set because I have guys who have been here two years who don’t know what they doing. It’s totally inexcusable. They don’t have any idea what they are doing,” Huggins said. “I can’t call a set unless I have certain guys on the floor. We’ll have one guy stand somewhere where he’s not supposed to stand and screw everything up.

“There are guys I can’t run a set after a time out and it’s totally inexcusable when they have the resources they have to be able to go watch things, look at things, learn things.”

Noreen backed his coach up on this.

“We can’t run offense because some of our guys don’t know sets. This late in the year that can’t happen. As one of the leaders I take some responsibility for that,” he said.

“I was a freshman … twice (he played some and then missed the rest of the year with injury). I didn’t know what was going on. Guys like Joe (Mazzulla) and Cam (Thoroughman) took me aside and helped me out … but some of these guys are not freshmen.”

They are sophomores and still don’t know which way is up and because of it they may spend the tournament season at home.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads