The time for wishing and hoping is over.
Reality has set in.
This is a bad West Virginia University basketball team.
They’ve had their chances and they haven’t been able to take advantage of them.
They get leads, double-figure leads, but none is big enough.
One was 18 points earlier this year. It disappeared.
The Mountaineers led by 13 over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
They might as well have trailed by 13. They lost, 80-66.
They had no chance to win.
That isn’t really what’s important. You can normally root for a team that loses if it is your team because you can find something loveable about it, a personality, a sense that it might grow into something better.
This team has no persona. It is, as coach Bob Huggins has said, a group of likeable kids, yes, but they have no flair and, more important, they are not in any way improving as the season goes on.
You look for that, you listen for Huggins, who has the wisdom of more than a quarter of century coaching, to tell you he sees this aspect of their game or that aspect of their game getting better.
He hasn’t said it, and it wasn’t forthcoming after this defeat.
What was said was more of the same old broken record that’s been playing since the Day 1.
How many times this year have we heard Huggins begin an answer to a question with this phrase: “I’ve never had teams that … ”
Over and over it comes out, that he hasn’t had a team that can’t do this or can’t do that, that can’t run a play or make a layup.
Here it was in this disaster:
“I’ve never had teams that after a timeout come out and don’t know what they’re doing, right after you showed them. It is guys who have played 19 games now this year, 30-some games last year. They played 50 games.”
And they come out of a timeout and don’t know what to do.
It isn’t like teams are confusing them.
Oklahoma State changed this game by going to a 2-3 zone.
You see 2-3 zones in biddy basketball. This was simple 2-3 zone, not a matchup, not a trapping zone.
WVU couldn’t handle it.
“The frustrating thing is I can’t run a set because they don’t know what they are doing. It’s mind boggling. They do it in practice. All of a sudden the game comes and they forget everything,” Huggins said.
You want to blame it on youth, for this is a young team. You want to blame it on the inexperience at this level, but Huggins can’t buy that.
“It’s people you wouldn’t think sometimes,” he said.
That’s the veteran players, the ones who should know better, but they have been as guilty as the least experienced of the freshmen.
Some teams can shoot opponents out of their zone defenses. Not this team.
In truth, it had one of its better shooting days in this game, finished with a shooting percentage that was better than 40 percent.
That translated into just 66 points, and you don’t win very many basketball games with 66 points, not when you give up 50 points on 3-point shots and free throws alone.
WVU left 3-point shooters open all day long, shooters they knew could make 3-point shots … and that is just a sin in the way Huggins coaches basketball.
But as bad is the fact that his shooters, save for the emerging star who is Eron Harris, can’t make a shot … not a 3 and not a 2.
Harris, the freshman who now has four consecutive double-figure games, scored 17 and hit 5 of 8 from 3-point range, the kind of shooting accuracy that would qualify him for WVU’s acclaimed rifle team.
The rest of the team made 2 of 11 3-point shots.
Two of 11, that coming a day after some guy came out of the stands at an NBA game and threw a hook shot in from half court for $75,000.
One try. Bingo!
The shame about what happened in this game is that finally, it appears, the likeable senior Deniz Kilicli finally has gotten his game together, put together a solid performance before fouling out with six and a half minutes to play, but it mattered not one bit.
Nothing seems to matter any longer, and that is probably why Huggins closed his post-game radio show with this pronouncement.
“I feel like going home and going to bed and pulling the covers over my head.”
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
The time for wishing and hoping is over.
Polar Bears fall to Morgantown in state championship
The streak ends while Morgantown prevails.
Fairmont Senior’s five-year state championship streak in lacrosse came to an abrupt end against an undefeated (15-0) Mohigan team on Saturday afternoon, 12-9.
North girls take home two titles
Add more state titles to the North Marion girls’ track team.
This time, it was the 4 x 100- and 4 x 200-meter relay teams that brought home the gold at the state meet Saturday in Charleston.
WVU wins regular-season finale
The West Virginia University baseball team guaranteed itself a Top 4 finish in the Big 12 Conference standings with a 5-4 victory at No. 16 Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Irvin’s dreads are gone now he must rebuild reputation
A couple of days back Bruce Irvin sat down in a barber’s chair — stylist’s chair, if you prefer — and made a dramatic and what had to be traumatic move.
He had his dreadlocks removed.
FURFARI COLUMN: Harrick greatest WVU two-sport coach
The late Steve Harrick was the longest-serving, most-successful two-sport head coach in West Virginia University’s athletic history.
Astros edge Pirates 4-2 in 11 innings
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ bullpen had been automatic with late-inning leads. Until Saturday night.
Jason Castro led off the 11th inning with a double and scored the go-ahead run on a close play at the plate as the Houston Astros topped the Pirates 4-2.
FSU, MVB team up for successful tournament
The Falcons and MVB paired to complete th 21st annual MVB-Fairmont State Athletic Association Golf Tournament at the Bridgeport Country Club on Friday.
Fairmont State’s mission during the event was to sell out, so thar FSU could raise as much money as possible for the athletic department.
Trefz wins state title in 3,200 meter
Winning it all.
Fairmont Senior’s senior phenom Nick Trefz can now call himself a state champion in track.
Trefz took home the gold in the 3,200 meters in Charleston on Friday with a time of 9:36.21.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Flying WV logo draws attention outside country
Sometimes you hit a nerve, as we did a while back when we wrote about the wide reach of West Virginia University’s flying WV logo.
It has meant a lot to a lot of people.
Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin suspended four games
Bruce Irvin, one of only two West Virginia University defensive linemen ever to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft, will miss the first four games of the 2014 National Football League season because of a failed test for performance-enhancing drugs.
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