The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va., Justin Jackson column
Feb 24, 2013 (The Dominion Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
BEFORE EVERY MEN'S basketball home game inside the WVU Coliseum, the video magicians in charge of the monstrosity that is the video scoreboard play an introductory tune that simply says, "Back to reality."
The reality for the Mountaineers these days is this: The loudest cheer from the Coliseum crowd during Saturday's 73-57 loss to 14th-ranked Oklahoma State came for the woman who went a perfect 4-for-4 during the Kroger's Shopping Cart Shootout.
Minutes later, the majority of the 10,038 fans who braved this one was already gone or were pouring out of the arena.
Such is life for a WVU team that wakes this morning with a losing 13-14 overall record and a losing 6-8 mark in the Big 12 Conference.
The reason for the latest setback is similar to so many before it. There is no reason to keep harping on the Mountaineers' inability to throw it in the ocean, even though WVU could only manage 30 percent (16-of-53) from the floor against the Cowboys.
That is old news, especially for a team that hasn't reached at least 70 points in a game since Feb. 2. No offense is no news at this point, and truth be told, it's probably not going to get any better any time soon.
What baffles most is how is this team still making some of the same mistakes as the calendar gets set to change to March as it made when the season started in November.
Remember how bad that Gonzaga game was on Nov. 12 WVU set a season high with 20 turnovers. Players had no idea where to pass the ball, no idea how to rotate on defense and, oh yeah, they couldn't shoot the ball that game, either.
WVU had 17 turnovers against Oklahoma State, 18 in a win against Texas Tech and 18 more in a 20-point loss to Baylor last week.
Coach Bob Huggins said he's been embarrassed about this season since that Gonzaga game, but added this team has improved.
Has it really
"I have always taken a lot of pride in the fact that I can get guys to play hard and I can get guys to compete," Huggins said. "People didn't like playing against us because we played so hard and we competed so hard. We tried to rebound the ball every time and we just did the right things. For some reason, I h ave n't been able to reach these guys, which is my fault. I should have been able to find a way to reach them."
Or at least how to guard someone or throw the ball inbounds or run a play. These are elementary things this team has had a difficult time mastering at the worst times throughout this season.
Has any of that improved Well, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart drove into the lane any time he wanted to during the second half, while WVU players threw passes at their teammates' feet when the Mountaineers should have had an easy basket.
It all added up to more frustration that just got piled on top of the mound of frustration that already existed. Are there any answers Not yet.
"The thing that we should be doing is getting hungrier after these losses," WVU forward Kevin Noreen said. "That should be motivation for us to go and practice harder. Huggs always tells us about his teams and how if they lost a game, you wouldn't want to be on the team who they played after. I don't think he's ever lost three in a row before, and we've done that. There is just no fight in us. We've got to know what we're doing out there and we don't care enough."
That was evident Saturday.
"It was us. We couldn't keep our heads in it," Noreen said.
"I am not going to lie to you, I never saw it coming," added Huggins. Who did
JUSTIN JACKSON is a reporter for The Dominion Post. Write to him at email@example.com.
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