Careers End For Carter And Miles As Underclass Commends
BOSTON – West Virginia’s seniors have made a habit of going to the rest of the team after big losses and giving both encouragement and instruction.
Following West Virginia’s 90-78 loss to Villanova in the NCAA’s East Region semis – which represented the final career game for Jevon Carter and Dax Miles – the roles were reversed.
“We came to them,” said Beetle Bolden. “It was our turn to do that, to pay respect to them for the work they put into this program. They taught us how to work and work for the state, so we all individually came up to them and congratulated them for the great career they had here and told them we loved them.”
It was a bittersweet ending, with Miles and Carter again bowing out in the Sweet 16 after yet another run to the Big 12 Championship finals. The two will go down as among the greatest of backcourts in WVU history – and the all-time best, according to head coach Bob Huggins – but one which never won a regular or postseason league title, and could never quite slip past a series of top-seeded foes in the NCAA Tournament’s third round.
There’s little doubting the collective excellence of the pair, which combined for nearly 7,500 minutes of play and more than 3,000 points in finishing as the eighth (Carter) and 25th (Miles) most prolific scorers in school history. Add in the more than 890 assists, 750 rebounds, and 500 assists and, ultimately, the 100-plus career wins in which both factored, and the on-court legacy is clear.
But there’s will be something larger than that, something that extended to the program, the community and the state as a whole, as well as expanding like a ripple onto Mountaineer Nation and beyond. As big of an impact as Carter and Miles might have had on the macrocosm of West Virginia basketball, Bolden’s thoughts were on the personal impacts the duo made, and how their play and actions elevated those around them.
It’s difficult to note what the searing images will be of the pair. For Carter, likely a pickpocket steal and the resulting run-out for a lay-in, for Miles perhaps his putback dunks, or his streaky three-point shot that, when falling, made the Mountaineers deadly. Maybe Miles’ distribution from the elbow in the offense paired with Carter’s ability to poke and prod until finding space for an exploitative drive.
Certainly Senior Day, when both knelt onto the playing surface before laying a brief kiss upon it. The struggle, of course, is to balance those images with both being hamstrung by fouls for prolonged stretches against Villanova, and playing the what-if game that results in little more than frustration. Of that, Bolden would only say “you watched it,” and that we did.
But credit, as Carter and Miles would both admit, goes to where it’s due, and the Wildcats were a touch better than the Mountaineers in this one, and history will record such.
“Our press was wearing them out for stretches in a game. They were turning the ball over like crazy,” Bolden said of a 10-0 WVU run that helped build a 60-54 lead with 11 minutes left. “Then they just hot shots, honestly. From the one to five, they all shot threes and hit them. When it’s going like that it’s hard.
“We had a few open shots that we didn’t make. When there are guys going for them like that, you tend to win. They weren’t missing. We made a few minor mistakes, but you can’t blame any one person.”
Win as a team, lose as a team. It’s been among the biggest messages from Carter throughout, and it has carried effectively to the next generation of West Virginia players. That time, be it a bit earlier than desired, begins now.