Frustration Level “At A Hundred” For WVU’s Bolden When He Can’t Play
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There’s no questioning the grit of West Virginia guard Beetle Bolden. Described as “pound for pound, the toughest guy on the team” by West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins, the junior guard treats his body, at least on the court, with as much care as construction crew member’s work day T-shirt. Flinging himself after loose balls, taking charges, and challenging players outweighing him by 70 or 80 pounds, collisions are as much as part of his workday as a crash test dummy.
While Bolden doesn’t like to discuss his injuries — and truth be told, it would be a long discussion — he does say that he doesn’t know any other way to play, nor would he want to.
“No. Honestly no,” he said when asked if he could dial it back a little bit on the court. “He (Huggins) dug that in my head ever since I got here, so I’m not going to stop now.”
Bolden’s willingness to tough it out has earned the respect of his teammates, and made him one of the leaders on the 2018-19 squad. Certainly, his experience and productivity help there, but it’s the example he sets on the floor, usually while swaddled with some sort of extra padding, tape, or most recently, cotton in a bloodied nose, that has others following his lead.
It’s also visible on those occasions when Bolden, who is understatedly described by Huggins as being “banged up”, can’t play. With injuries over the past three months ranging from severe ankle sprains to hand ligament sprains to full body cramps to a badly bruised elbow and that bloody nose, he seems to be a magnet for every sort of bang-up. He was held out of the St. Joseph’s and Valparaiso games, and played just a combined 31 minutes in WVU’s two most recent wins against Valparaiso and Youngstown State.
“It’s at a hundred,” he said of his rating on the frustration scale when he isn’t cleared for action. “I want to be out there and help my team win. But when I’m out, I’m cheering my team on.”
Huggins noted that he has held Bolden out during the two most recent wins to give more time to developing guards Brandon Knapper and Jordan McCabe, but another benefit is to head of chances for more wear and tear. That’s sure to come for the headlong Bolden this year, though.
“I just look out there and go play the game like I usually do. I hustle on defense and show these guys I’m willing to sacrifice anything for them,” he said.
Youngstown State head coach Jerrod Calhoun sees those qualities, and found it easy to ID him as a key to WVU’s season.
“I think Beetle is their guy,” he observed following the Mountaineers 106-72 win. “He has to be the leader. I think he has to be the voice for this team.”