SYRACUSE. N.Y. —
They call it March Madness and it’s a wonderful time ... if you are on the winning end.
If you are on the losing end, it becomes March madness.
“Last year, when we lost [in a stunning first-round upset to Dayton], it was a horrible feeling,” junior forward Cam Thoroughman recalled. “Your mood is just terrible. I mean, everything sucks. Then all through the off-season the strength coach is bringing it up every day, pushing you not to let it happen again.”
It becomes March madness, all right. Anger, hurt, disappointment.
Basketball in March and basketball in February are as different as is the weather.
It’s like a pickup game at the YMCA in February.
In March every game is like being the defendant in a capital murder trial.
“Everyone’s back is against the wall,” WVU guard Joe Mazzulla said. “It’s one and done.”
One loss and done … that’s what makes it such a thrilling event.
“In February, you go in with the mentality that if you don’t win one, well, it’s OK. That doesn’t happen in March,” Da’Sean Butler said. “You lose and it’s over”
“In March, you can’t say ‘We’ll get ‘em the next time,” Coach Bob Huggins said. “If we don’t have a good weekend, I’m out recruiting on Monday.”
And right now, Huggins wants no part of recruiting.
In Butler’s case, the finality is overbearing. He is a senior who has given his all to West Virginia basketball.
He came in under John Beilein, stayed when Beilein left.
When Bob Huggins came in Butler reinvented himself and with it his game. He became bigger, stronger, more of a scorer.
He became the anointed one when Joe Alexander left early for the NBA. Alexander, it will be recalled, was languishing away on the bench under Beilein, yet he became Huggins’ featured player. Huggins took his skills and molded them to the point that he reached his full potential, just as Butler has now done.