Visit To WVU Medicine Children’s Sets Perspective For Mountaineer Hoops
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — There is a sermon that offers up the story of a man who once cried because he had no shoes and was feeling sorry for himself until he came across another man who had no feet.
In some ways, West Virginia’s basketball team lived out that sermon a couple of days ago when it made its annual visit to the ill children at WVU Medicine Children’s.
True, they’ve been having their troubles on the court, and players like Sagaba Konate and Beetle Bolden have been fighting injuries for the whole season, but a Christmas visit like that tends to make you understand that your problems are only bumps in the road to success.
“It was a blessing for us,” said Bolden at Friday’s practice, displaying a padded wrap on his left hand from yet another injury that he suffered as he readied himself for Saturday’s noon home game against Jacksonville State.
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“It reminds you to count your blessings every day,” Bolden continued, speaking of the hospital visit. “It’s bigger than basketball in some ways, to get in there and show those kids we care about them. It’s nice to see that smile on their face and get their minds off what they are going through. I’ll do that any time.”
Bolden was one of the stars of the show during the visit, donning an elf’s outfit for the second year in a row.
‘We do a lot of that kind of stuff,” coach Bob Huggins said of the trip. “They’ve started this deal, it’s like a competition between teams on who does the most community service and we’ve won it every year.”
The Mountaineers are always on the go when it comes to community service.
“That’s a small part of what they do. Thanksgiving they were down feeding the homeless. It seems like every weekend they are doing something,” Huggins said.
“It helps them stay grounded. When you starting thinking things are terrible, or ‘I hurt this’… then you go see people who are in virtual life and death situations, it let’s you see how fortunate you are to be able to do what you do.”
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The game will mark the return of freshman Derek Culver from what has been so far a season-long indefinite suspension and he comes back just in time as star shot blocker Konate’s status remains uncertain.
Konate missed Friday’s practice to get surgically repaired knee examined, which will open playing time for the heralded freshman Culver.
Culver was suspended for attitude problems, which Huggins says was nothing serious.
“I’d probably have suspended you guys for doing the same kind of things he did if I had you at that age,” he said to the media.
This is nothing new to Huggins, who kept Culver from all basketball related activities and even took his card to the practice facility from him.
“I gave him a contract. He signed a contract. I did the same thing with Teyvon Myers. You find out how much you really miss it. It’s more than basketball. It’s camaraderie,” he said.
“He didn’t do anything bad, things like being late for class. But he had to fulfill everything in the contract … and he did. He was great, didn’t miss a class, he was never late, he was good in study hall.”
Culver is expected to be a strong rim protector like Konate, add rebounding strength. Huggins says he may be the best passer on the team.
“I might play him at point guard,” he joked of the 6-10 forward.
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Grades came in for WVU’s basketball team and the team had a 2.86 average, according to Huggins.
“The standard here has been set so high. I mean, we had a 2.86 grade point this semester and everyone was mad about it. They were mad we weren’t over 3.0. Hey, 2.86 isn’t bad. I’ve had team where guys couldn’t add them up to 2.86,” Huggins joked.