The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 14, 2010

HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU not dead yet

MORGANTOWN — “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.“ – Mark Twain, after learning that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal.

Forget about burying West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team right now.

I know what you were thinking there in the first half Wednesday night when South Florida was having its way with West Virginia, when Dominique Jones was hitting everything he threw at the rim and the Mountaineers were hitting nothing.

I was thinking it, too. The malaise from the Notre Dame game was hanging heavily over the Mountaineers. Da’Sean Butler’s shot was as bad as it had been in Notre Dame when he hit but 4 of 20 from the field. Kevin Ebanks was still on his extended vacation. Kevin Jones was MIA.

It was enough, at times, to make even Bob Huggins raise his voice, and you know it takes something big, like the sun coming up in the East in the morning, to make that happen.

When the score slipped to 23-12 … well, quite frankly, there were thoughts of beginning this piece like this:

The West Virginia Mountaineers bid for a Big East championship, a high seed in the NCAA Tournament and, perhaps, and NCAA championship came to an end after a brief illness Wednesday night in Tampa, Fla.

The 2009-2010 Mountaineers were just two months old.

They are surivived by thousands of fans and their creator, Bob Huggins.

But, as it was with Mark Twain, the reports of their death were greatly exaggerated.

“I called a time out and said, ‘Do you just want to get down 20 and then start playing like at Notre Dame. Just give me the number we have to get down before you start to play,’” Huggins said after the game.

The resurrection of the Mountaineers began when Da’Sean Butler, of whom it is fair to say as he goes so go the Mountaineers, finally hit a jump shot. Coming off a 4-for-20 shooting performance at Notre Dame, it appeared that he had gone from being a deadeye shooter to a shooter with a dead eye.

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