WVU Heads For Beach With Plenty of Questions
One game — and one overtime loss to a solid Buffalo team went to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament a season ago — has dropped West Virginia out of the Top 25 for the first time in 56 weeks and sent Bob Huggins off looking for answers.
“We talked about Buffalo since we starting working out,” Huggins admitted. ‘I tried to use the fact (to motivate the team) that if we stayed in the top 25 two more weeks it would have set a record that had been there since the 1958-60 teams.
“That’s kind of neat when you finish your career and can say I was part of that instead of being part of a team with 15 wins that people didn’t come to see play… but it comes down to they have to play every day.”
WVU came in 26th in the poll after having been 13th while Buffalo used the win to propel itself into the No. 25 slot.
The Mountaineers next take the floor in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as part of a tournament, made for (and by) ESPN which presents them with three games in four days, beginning with a Thursday game with Monmouth.
Huggins spent a lot of time dissecting film and looking at numbers and came to a number of conclusions.
“We’re at the stage where we’re still trying to get better,” Huggins said. “I try to show them what they did right and what they did wrong. I tried to show them they don’t block out, then run the floor the way they need to and they don’t pass the ball the way they need to.”
Passing the ball right now might be the biggest problem for they really have no reliable point guard other than Beetle Bolden, who probably should be a two guard the way he shoots.
But if anything happened in the Buffalo game that made it impossible to win it was that they ended up the game with Bolden out with five stitches in his right brown and with what Huggins termed a “full body cramp” that made moving excruciating, let alone playing.
Add to that the fact that his top player, Sagaba Konate, who has had a gimpy knee, came out when that bothered him and WVU was in a world of hurt, so to speak.
“It’s like if you took Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks out of the lineup on the Sweet 16 team,” Huggins said.
You don’t go to gunfight with a pocket knife.
How those two will be for the tournament is anyone’s guess, but they are expected to be able to play.
The big thing is getting this team learn how to win. Lost in that opening loss was the fact that it had a 13-point lead in the second half — shades of last season — but fell apart both offensive and defensively.
To make matters worse, WVU’s press wasn’t the “Press Virginia” weapon that had given this team its notoriety, in part because newcomer Derek Culver didn’t play and he is a shot blocker and maybe the man who could make the press go.
“Derek has to do what he’s supposed to do,” Huggins said of sitting him both in the Penn State exhibiton and the Buffalo game. “That’s been the case pretty much forever. It’s not that hard to get up and go to class, not that hard to be on time, not that hard to be on time for study hall.”
But Huggins doesn’t hang on Culver the blame for the loss.
“I don’t think having him out there would have made any difference,” he said. “They threw the ball in and our guys didn’t have a chance to double. Our guards did a bad job having them catch the ball in an area where we can double them.”