The Times West Virginian

Sports

January 7, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN-WVU faces an uphill Big 12 battle

MORGANTOWN — One game into its Big 12 life, the West Virginia University basketball program finds itself faced with serious challenges.

Nowhere in the coach’s instructional manual is it written that a 7-6 start with a giveaway loss in the conference opener on the home floor before a sellout crowd while looking at following that up with a trip to Texas for game No. 2 should be considered an omen of good things to come.

Freshman Terry Henderson, who did his part to make the situation a better one, scoring 21 points with some torrid first-half shooting that kept WVU from falling completely out of the 67-57 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday, had trouble grasping exactly what had happened.

“First Big 12 game, home opener, packed crowd — what more could you ask for?” he said, shaking his head.

“I really thought we were going to pull it out,” he continued.

But there was no one there to carry his heroics of 18 first-half points into the second half and, for the lack of a daintier phrase, they were out-toughed through the second half as the Sooners took one from them in a situation where that just could not be allowed to happen.

And now things get tough!

See, living life in the Big 12 in basketball is a grind, not just on the court, but off it.

Road trips in this conference when your home court is located in West Virginia are just that — road trips.

Until now, the Mountaineers have been cruising through a travel-friendly schedule, one that may have taken them to a lot of far-spread places but given them a week or more in between to get there. True, they opened as far away as you can get in Spokane, Wash., and followed that up in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., but there was a 10-day gap.

Conference play is different, and WVU isn’t in the East Coast-friendly Big East where you went from New York City to Syracuse to Providence to D.C. and so forth.

Now it’s trips to Austin and Lubbock and Lawrence and Oklahoma City and places where you change time zones almost as often as you change underwear and when instead of jumping on a plane after a game and being home after an hour or an hour and a half flight, you spend the night.

This next trip to Texas isn’t a terrible problem with school still out, but consider that they play a rather important game against Kansas State on Jan. 12, fly to Iowa State for a game on Jan. 16, then fly to Indiana three days later for a game against Purdue.

“It’s not like flying to Philadelphia and back. We’re going to have to adjust things,” coach Bob Huggins admitted. “When you’re playing at 9 o’clock you are getting out of the arena at midnight.”

No sweat then; get to the airport and home by 4 a.m.

But in the Big 12, with that hour time difference and an hour or two added to the flight time, it’s a challenge unlike anything even Huggins has been through before.

“When I was in the Big 12, I was in Kansas (at Kansas State). We were basically an hour from everyone. I’ve never been through this before, this kind of travel on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, non-conference in Cincinnati we played everybody. We played Washington, we played Southern Cal, but it wasn’t like one at home, travel four hours, travel four hours home, then back on the road again for a long flight.”

To increase the irritation, because of the time zone there are seven 9 p.m. (EDT) starts, beginning with Wednesday’s game at Texas. Two of those are Big Monday home games against Kansas on Jan. 28 and Texas on Feb. 4.

“It sucks for us to be here at home on weekdays because people come from so far away. There’s a lot of people who just can’t come and get home to go to work in the morning,” he noted. “Then, on the road, it gets us home late.”

Previously, he liked to get on the plane and fly after a game.

“My plan was to get on a plane and fly home because they don’t sleep on a plane anyway,” Huggins explained. “If you put them in the hotel they are going to sit and talk. They have a bed, but they won’t sleep in it. However, put them on the plane and they’ll sleep on the plane, so why stay overnight?”

The thing is, Huggins isn’t like a lot of coaches. He enjoys getting his team into the national spotlight, no matter what it takes, be it open at midnight at Gonzaga as the Mountaineers did this year or make some sacrifices to play on Big Monday.

“My first year in the Big East I’m sitting there and Mike Bray (of Notre Dame) is complaining about having too many Big Mondays, and I’m thinking, ‘I’ll take all of them.’ You can’t beat that exposure,” he said.

He would later admit, however, “I think we lost two of them, and I’m thinking this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but you think about it and they do that in the NBA every game. All these guys think that’s what they want to do for a living, but you come in the next day and they’re like, wait a minute, man. It’s all what you condition yourself to do.”

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

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Tori Postlewait front.jpg East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters

    Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
    If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
    Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • East tennis splits with Polar Bears

    Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
    In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.

    April 18, 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

  • McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins

    The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
    Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 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

  • Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0

    Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
    Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos