The time for wishing and hoping is over.
Reality has set in.
This is a bad West Virginia University basketball team.
They’ve had their chances and they haven’t been able to take advantage of them.
They get leads, double-figure leads, but none is big enough.
One was 18 points earlier this year. It disappeared.
The Mountaineers led by 13 over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
They might as well have trailed by 13. They lost, 80-66.
They had no chance to win.
That isn’t really what’s important. You can normally root for a team that loses if it is your team because you can find something loveable about it, a personality, a sense that it might grow into something better.
This team has no persona. It is, as coach Bob Huggins has said, a group of likeable kids, yes, but they have no flair and, more important, they are not in any way improving as the season goes on.
You look for that, you listen for Huggins, who has the wisdom of more than a quarter of century coaching, to tell you he sees this aspect of their game or that aspect of their game getting better.
He hasn’t said it, and it wasn’t forthcoming after this defeat.
What was said was more of the same old broken record that’s been playing since the Day 1.
How many times this year have we heard Huggins begin an answer to a question with this phrase: “I’ve never had teams that … ”
Over and over it comes out, that he hasn’t had a team that can’t do this or can’t do that, that can’t run a play or make a layup.
Here it was in this disaster:
“I’ve never had teams that after a timeout come out and don’t know what they’re doing, right after you showed them. It is guys who have played 19 games now this year, 30-some games last year. They played 50 games.”
And they come out of a timeout and don’t know what to do.
It isn’t like teams are confusing them.
Oklahoma State changed this game by going to a 2-3 zone.
You see 2-3 zones in biddy basketball. This was simple 2-3 zone, not a matchup, not a trapping zone.
WVU couldn’t handle it.
“The frustrating thing is I can’t run a set because they don’t know what they are doing. It’s mind boggling. They do it in practice. All of a sudden the game comes and they forget everything,” Huggins said.
You want to blame it on youth, for this is a young team. You want to blame it on the inexperience at this level, but Huggins can’t buy that.
“It’s people you wouldn’t think sometimes,” he said.
That’s the veteran players, the ones who should know better, but they have been as guilty as the least experienced of the freshmen.
Some teams can shoot opponents out of their zone defenses. Not this team.
In truth, it had one of its better shooting days in this game, finished with a shooting percentage that was better than 40 percent.
That translated into just 66 points, and you don’t win very many basketball games with 66 points, not when you give up 50 points on 3-point shots and free throws alone.
WVU left 3-point shooters open all day long, shooters they knew could make 3-point shots … and that is just a sin in the way Huggins coaches basketball.
But as bad is the fact that his shooters, save for the emerging star who is Eron Harris, can’t make a shot … not a 3 and not a 2.
Harris, the freshman who now has four consecutive double-figure games, scored 17 and hit 5 of 8 from 3-point range, the kind of shooting accuracy that would qualify him for WVU’s acclaimed rifle team.
The rest of the team made 2 of 11 3-point shots.
Two of 11, that coming a day after some guy came out of the stands at an NBA game and threw a hook shot in from half court for $75,000.
One try. Bingo!
The shame about what happened in this game is that finally, it appears, the likeable senior Deniz Kilicli finally has gotten his game together, put together a solid performance before fouling out with six and a half minutes to play, but it mattered not one bit.
Nothing seems to matter any longer, and that is probably why Huggins closed his post-game radio show with this pronouncement.
“I feel like going home and going to bed and pulling the covers over my head.”
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
The time for wishing and hoping is over.
5 memorable college hoops tourney buzzer beaters
It's March, which means the NCAA Tournament is just around the corner. But before March Madness takes hold, the conference tournaments, which get under way this week, often provide their own share of exciting finishes. Here are five memorable buzzer beaters from conference tournament play.
Fairmont Senior bullies Ritchie County to claim regional title: PHOTOS
While remnants of a winter storm remained outside of the Woody Williams Armory, No. 1 Fairmont Senior was on fire inside, beating Ritchie County, 69-31, for the Region I title.
It was business as usual for Fairmont Senior, which will advance to the state tournament beginning next Wednesday in Charleston.
North Marion tops Webster, 76-48
North Marion rebounded from a sectional championship loss to beat Webster County, 76-48, on the road Thursday night to punch its ticket to the state tournament.
The Lady Huskies, which had four of their five starters in double figures, used a team effort to get the win.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Huggins just wants WVU to compete
In the end, with Bob Huggins, they count victories and losses, and he has always been one to pile up the victories while keeping the losses to a minimum, at least until the last two seasons at West Virginia University.
And, in the end, when he tries to analyze why the losses have come rather than the victories, he comes to understand that he just doesn’t have the manpower to compete.
Cold-shooting Lady Falcons fall to State
In its biggest game of the season to date Fairmont State suffered its worst performance.
Fifth-seeded FSU shot a season-low 29.5 percent from the field (18-of-61), including a dismal 8-of-33 showing (24.2 percent) in the second half and as a result fell, 71-59, to fourth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament here Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Falcons hope for tournament run
Since day one, making another post-season run has been at the top of Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun’s mind.
Last season the Falcons went three-for-four in the WVIAC Tournament, falling to West Liberty in the tournament’s final game. The strong run, though, propelled the Falcons into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed.
Carey, Bussie headline Big 12 awards
To the victors go the spoils, and West Virginia University’s newly crowned Big 12 women’s basketball regular-season co-champions certainly took down their share of the conference’s post-season awards, headed by coach Mike Carey and senior center Asya Bussie.
FURFARI COLUMN: Women’s finale fitting as all-time Coliseum great
If you weren’t among the thrilled, extremely vocal 5,502 fans at the WVU Coliseum last Tuesday night, you missed one of the most memorable sports events in that 44-year-old arena’s history.
The No. 7 nationally ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s capture of the Big 12 Conference regular-season co-championship beating Kansas 67-60 on Senior Night was followed by a wild, wonderful celebration.
Local product enters Mount St. Mary’s Hall of Fame
Fairmont Senior graduate Heather Wable DeWees has been inducted into Mount St. Mary’s University Athletics Hall of Fame.
During her time on Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball team, she was described as a “winner.”
Elliott, Delligatti share state championship win with their fathers
As human beings, we love to share special moments with those we are closest to.
For Ryan Elliott and Vincent Delligatti, that moment was winning the state championship, something they were both able to accomplish with their father as a coach on their wrestling team.
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