No Answers For WVU Home – Road Disparity
Bob Huggins is tired of it. So, social media says, are you. And, rest assured, Huggins players are tired of it, too.
Tired of what?
Of road losses. Of bad free throw shooting. Of bad 3-point shooting. Of turnovers. The only problem is no one has any idea how to change the erosion of this West Virginia basketball team.
It’s supposed to be better. It has a history of being better. Instead, it’s getting worse.
Jerry West, Rod Hundley, Rod Thorn, Da’Sean Butler, Jevon Carter … you can go on and on.
West became the NBA logo. This team could become the logo for futility.
Excuses. We hear lots of them, over and over, when what has happened to this 2020 team is inexcusable.
They should be road warriors but instead are road worriers.
Put ‘em in someone else’s gym and they become dysfunctional … can’t shoot, can’t dribble, can’t pass. Lost seven straight Big 12 road games, 3-11 on the year in all true road games, 1-17 over the past two years in Big 12 road games.
There have been studies about home-court advantage in sports and they have come up with several theories … travel, familiarity, crowd, officiating. They’ve even found that players have more testosterone for home and games and more cortisol, a hormone that creates stress, for road games. One suspects that’s going too far.
Or is it?
Think you can explain beating Texas at home 97-59 and losing on the road 67-57 because you went across a time zone, because you slept in a strange bed or because the crowd was loud?
That’s going from winning by 39 to losing by 10 … a 49-point difference.
And don’t say it’s an aberration. WVU beat TCU at home, 81-49, by 32 points, then lost on the road, 60-67, by seven. It gave Kansas State 27 more points on the road than than it allowed that same team at home and Texas Tech … oh, Texas Tech.
At home, WVU beat the Red Raiders, 66-54 and lost on the road, 89-81. The Mountaineers gave up 35 more points on the road.
They get on planes to go on the road as winners and come home as losers and now it seems to be permeating the heart of the team as well as its psyche.
At Texas you felt a growing chasm among the players, a frustrated Derek Culver sniping at Miles McBride for not throwing him the ball, frustrated looks instead of compassionate pats on the fanny.
What is troubling is that normally Bob Huggins teams improve during the year. They run their offense sharper, their defense with more passion.
This team is going in reverse. Confidence is slipping. You see it almost every time down the floor. Example from Tuesday night: the ball going inside to an open Gabe Osabuohien, who never even looked at the basket but nearly surprised Jordan McCabe by passing it out to him five feet behind the 3-point line.
I ran a social media poll on Tuesday asking what was wrong with the Mountaineers and giving four choices: confidence, coaching, chemistry or inexperience.
Almost 250 voted and there was no overwhelming winner. The fans seem as uncertain as the players and the coaches. Confidence drew 40% of the vote, inexperience 28.6%, coaching 18,9% and chemistry 12.2%.
Unscientific? Yes. But the impression the results gave was that the problem is seen as running through the very fiber of the team and that if there is a blame it falls upon all of them.
Time remains to turn things back around and a statement can be made in the Big 12 Tournament, but the reality they face now is that will go down as the team that let what could have been a special season slip through their fingers … figuratively and literally.