Several weeks ago I sat in the seat where I’m currently sitting trying to convince myself that the current edition of the West Virginia University men’s basketball team had a late season run in them. Thinking that way sort of made sense then, because the Mountaineers had just won three games in a row and had moved above .500 with a 12-11 record. None of the wins were against teams ahead of West Virginia in the Big 12 standings, but some of the team’s offensive problems seemed to be improving, so optimism crept in.
A week later, after a 20-point loss at Baylor that wasn’t really that close, I basically denounced my suggestion that WVU could make a run this season. I did, however, allow that with six games left, and three of those in the Coliseum, that the Mountaineers would likely win at least one of the six-remaining games. Head Coach Bob Huggins has been sounding like a broken record in his post game interviews as he laments that he has no answers for the play of the team, but vows to fix whatever it is.
Apparently I don’t know much either, because WVU lost all six of those games to finish the regular season 13-18. While I have my ideas of how to start fixing the problem, I have no method to do so. The word is that part of the fix Huggins has in mind will involve some players not returning to the team next year. Since the season has not concluded we are left to speculate just who those players may be.
We know seniors Deniz Kilicli, Dom Rutledge and Matt Humphrey will be moving on. We also know that four players have signed to play for WVU as freshman next season, so that means at least one current underclassman isn’t expected to return. You can expect a couple more, but we’ll get to that when the time comes.
WVU’s season will likely conclude this week at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. It’s not certain if WVU could wind up in one of the post-season tournaments with a losing record, but a four game run this week would send West Virginia into the NCAA Tournament. Obviously that would be the longest of long shots.
The Mountaineers will open the tournament as the eight seed against ninth seeded Texas Tech Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Mountaineers have two wins over the Red Raiders this season, one of which is the only win of the last eight games and that game was a two-point win in Morgantown. If WVU holds serve in the first round they would meet top seeded Kansas in Thursday’s quarterfinal at 3 p.m.