West Virginia Basketball: Can They Rebound During the Home Stretch?
Anyone who follows the West Virginia basketball team knew that sooner or later, this game was coming.
Teams that prominently feature five freshman might on occasion put together a nice run of games, but a 15-5 start left Mountaineer fans very excited at the future of the team but wondering when this current team was going to lay its first egg of the season.
After their 78-62 loss at St. Johns (who, incidentally, was starting five freshman of their own) on Wednesday night, its safe to say that egg has been dropped.
It wasn't just the score that should worry Mountaineer fans, it was the way they lost. They scored just 20 first half points, trailed by as many as 21 and for the first time looked like an inexperienced team playing in the toughest conference in the country. And apparently, I'm not the only one who noticed.
That lack of preparedness laid out by Huggins was evident during the game, where center Deniz Kilicli appeared to be playing with concrete in his sneakers—the freshmen seemed afraid to shoot, and the one player who was definitely not afraid to shoot, Truck Bryant, was 4-13 from the floor.
Now that the question of when that first stink-bomb is going to hit is out of the way, a bigger one has emerged: can West Virginia bounce back and save their season? Unfortunately, next week isn't going to get easier.
It starts on Saturday in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse, who might very well be the best team in the country, and is a double-digit favorite over the Mountaineers. 48 hours later, West Virginia will welcome Pittsburgh into the Coliseum for a game that the Panthers desperately need if they want to make the tournament come March.
At 15-6, West Virginia would no doubt love to wake up on Tuesday morning with a record of 16-7. If that happens, the team will be, barring a gigantic collapse, dancing come tournament time. That will hopefully allow the freshman to gain confidence as the season finishes up, and might even let Huggins smile once and a while. (Okay, that was a lie, we all know that Huggins will be fired before he smiles).
I'm willing to write off Wednesday's game as a fluke, one that happens over the course of a Big East season, especially when you are as inexperienced as the Mountaineers are. But that doesn't mean I'm willing to give the rest of the season a pass.
With a fairly favorable schedule remaining that features only three more games against teams currently in the top 25, West Virginia has a great opportunity to not only establish themselves this season, but wherever they end up playing next year.
And for Mountaineer fans, as well as Bob Huggins' sanity, let's hope this week was the last egg they will lay this year.
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