Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which likes to think it’s better now than it was at this time last year. That, of course, is our conversation starter for the weekend.
And what a weekend! WVU v. Marshall in the Capital Classic, which we at charlestondailymail.com have ably covered. There’s also the potential for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Press Row. You know Jack Bo will have one. Others have been challenged. Coyle is going to participate, but then go into a phone booth and change for his televised spots … which I think is weak. Not how I roll.
— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) December 7, 2013
Anyhow, about these Mountaineers. The 2012-13 season was a bad one for Bob Huggins and his sixth West Virginia team. This is a fact, not my opinion, and something the coach and the players have made perfectly clear many times already this season, which is one of the sneaky story lines so far. By the sounds of it, last season was just unbearable for anyone who had to experience it. Now, it’s unlikely it was that bad, and time does funny things to the way people remember and recall things, but they sure have thrown some mud at last season.
When you combine that with the failures of the football season, you put a lot of … pressure? … on Huggins and his seventh WVU team. Early on, it worked nicely, even if no one was showing up to witness it. You had a likable group of players and one who’d really taken it upon himself to get better than he’d let himself be a year ago. The ball was going up more and going in more and we were reminded points are fun and usually useful.
And everyone was probably a little too excited. I don’t know if it’s wanting too much too soon or some sort or syndrome attached to going 4-8 in football, but losses to Wisconsin (No. 4 now, by the way) and Missouri (No. 24 now, by the way) were seen as missed opportunities. That was before a Gonzaga team that’s ranked No. 20 and has taken WVU’s number and beaten the Mountaineers over the head with it twice in the past 21 months played very well on the road to snatch a win.
Break down those losses any way you want — Virginia Tech remains a bad loss, even though the Hokies are not terrible – but you walk away with this: WVU is 6-4 after 10 games.
A year ago, the Mountaineers were 5-5 after 10 games.
A loss to Marshall Saturday in the Capital Classic leaves this team 6-5, the same mark the eventual 13-19 team had a year ago. That’s, at worst, interesting.
“It’s not a fair indication,” junior forward Kevin Noreen said. “I don’t know what the numbers were last year, but I’m sure the scoring differential in some of the losses was a lot greater than what it has been this year. Some of the losses we had last year, we kind of gave up. I don’t think you’ve seen this team give up yet.
“We’re getting there, but we’ve got to get a lot better.”
That they do, because while the schedule is tricky from here on out, WVU still has a chance to get right and get on a roll. It’s not asking a good team a lot to win the next five. But WVU hasn’t won five in a row since basically the same time in the 2011-12 season. Only Kevin Noreen was playing. Juwan State was sitting out and watching. WVU’s best streak since are some modest three-game runs.
Can this team do it? Can it run the rest of the non-conference schedule, bank some quality practices during the winter break and then nab back-to-back road games against TCU and Texas Tech? Answering that answers this: Is this team better than it was a year ago? The numbers say “Yes, kind of,” but time will tell you the most.
Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, think before you cheat.
i like this team BUT
it’s still early
if the team stays on the winning side of the ledger and has a reason to play, there’s no reason to not fight, but what if a losing streak mounts – like last year?
that being said, I do believe the H’s are starting to lead – although Henderson is pressing and taking ill-advised shots.
I wonder if this young team is intimidated by better talent? Staten not taking on a big on a dribble drive, and step back jumpers and threes are the signs of a team afraid their shots gonna come back in their faces.
It’s a big obstacle – mentally – really in the gut – to believe you can play with and beat the big boys. You can verbalize it and believe it in practice, but in the heat of the game, doubt can seep in. This team needs to beat a big boy in order to believe they can beat a big boy. And it needs one of those signature wins at home (Gonzaga?) and then on the road because those are two different animals as well.
they have yet to ascend a mountain of substance.
that VT loss – which should have been a win – could have really changed the trajectory early in the season
this is a young team. early missed shots on wide open jumpers tells me the team isn’t ripe yet. it’s tight and the game is so mental.
i like that this team has fight and looks like it can hit some shots.
i like the renewed work effort
i like the depth
i like that the team is beating who they should
they’ve got to hold serve at home (against Kansas, OSU, Iowa State and Baylor?) and then steal some away – TALL task for a team with no height.
That fifth paragraph is intriguing. I’ve wondered the same thing from time to time, almost like a scouting report told them to be aware of this or that, and then when this or that pops up, WVU reacts oddly. The Gonzaga game was good and bad in that regard. I thought WVU pushed certain buttons early and found success and felt pretty good about its chances. Then when the Bulldogs started to toughen up some of those soft spots, it seemed WVU was a little spooked. Then again, that’s not unique to WVU, and truth be told, WVU played about six minutes of so-so basketball that night.