I think we can have a look at, have a discussion about and even have some fun with what Eron Harris said Tuesday night, his message born out of the frustration of another loss and a five-point half under the stranglehold of a defense after an 18-point half under the bright lights of the Coliseum.
But the Mamba did say this:
“You’ve got Kobe. What do they do? They screen for Kobe,” Harris said. “I’m not saying I’m Kobe, but I feel like I had a good enough half to be an option in the second half.”
I like the part where he assured us he’s not Kobe … but I also liked the idea. He is this team’s Kevin Jones, Da’Sean Butler and Joe Alexander. He is from where the points come and he’s the guys his teammates have to go to when a 10-point lead over a ranked team is getting away at home or on the road.
“I think there’s a level of frustration any time you lose a game because you just don’t want to lose, especially when you’re right there,” Staten said after WVU’s fourth single-digit loss this season. The Mountaineers actually led by double figures in two of those losses.
“It’s great that we’re not getting blown out or anything,” Staten added, “but it gets frustrating that the games we are losing that we’re right there. It lets us know that it’s just a couple possessions, a couple plays here or there that are costing us.”
The defense is at times terrible and the lapses are often untimely. The sum of those parts leaves the Mountaineers at 6-0 against bad teams and 0-4 against good teams and without a lot of bad teams left on the grid.
“Let’s show Gonzaga that their ‘Kennel Club’ has nothing on the Mountaineer Maniacs and lets (sic) send them home with a loss in front of a national audience !”
So there are about 3,500 student tickets accounted for this evening and a WVU spokesperson told me before the game the Mountaineers were hoping to draw around 9,000 for tonight’s game at the Coliseum, where the home team is either a 21/2- or a 3-point underdog against No. 20 Gonzaga, depending on where you get your intel.
Home court variable? If nothing else, the dead week dreary students are properly armed with some decent jabs they can throw at the Bulldogs. My favorite, I think, is from the Kyle Dranginis bio: “From the great basketball state of Idaho, has scored 30 in a game but can’t start.” Special honorable mention for the tip that Sam Dower, Jr., still has a MySpace page.
Do me a favor today: Ask someone to take a guess at WVU’s record against the last 20 ranked opponents. You’re free to call that a person a dirty cheater if the answer is 3-17. But that’s the truth, as you can see, and a 13-game losing streak against schools with a number next to their names will do that kind of damage.
I was kind of shocked when I discovered that Sunday. I know, I know, the Mountaineers are prone to play a lot of ranked teams in the Big 12 and the Big East and given the way Bob Huggins likes to arrange his non-conference schedule. And I know, I know, WVU hasn’t been all that great of late — in fact, the Mountaineers have been ranked just once in those matchups.
But I find it extremely hard to believe a Huggins-led team hasn’t won any of the past 13 and more of the past 20. Call me naive, but it’s difficult to accept.
Junior college Skyler Howard committed over the weekend and Dravon Henry, a defensive back who some believe is good enough to play right away next season, committed today. The Mountaineers beat out Pitt for Henry’s services.
Lost in the loss Thursday night was this sneaky gem from Bob Huggins, and one that was somewhat unsolicited after he said this team doesn’t quit and he’s only ever had one team that quit on him. A few of us perked up and wanted to follow up on that, but another question came quickly and Huggins replied and then slipped in this:
“We didn’t quit,” Huggins said. “You know we would have laid it down last year. There would have been guys taking the worst shots in the world. Then somebody else would take one worse than that.”
You are looking live inside Mizzou Arena on the frigid campus of the University of Missouri, which automatically makes be a better journalist, if for one night only.
Understand that here, the people don’t much like the Big 12 and it was that burgeoning discontent that ultimately pushed them out of the league and into the Southeastern Conference. As you can expect, once you’re in the SEC, you develop a certain joie de vivre. Then when you find yourself playing for the SEC football title, it becomes very, well, je ne sais quoi?
And so it was no surprise that when I first arrived at the arena — and I was forewarned the students section is, as you can see, right on top of the floor and that the kids can be rowdy — one lonesome student shouted, “Welcome to Missouri, West Virginia. How the Big 12?” That was promptly followed by laughter, isolated as it was 75 minutes before the game. There was later a poster board illustration of the Mountaineer mascot and some peculiar joke about the resemblance to Miley Cyrus. I’d say you had to be there, but trust me, you didn’t.
But it’s going to be difficult in here tonight. The Tigers (7-0) are pretty good and they play well at home. They’ve won 77 straight at home in non-conference play and are a Petersen Events Centeresque 141-21 since this place opened in the 2004-05 season. Missouri was 17-0 at home last season and has won 22 straight and 37 of 38.