by Jim Buzzerd
A loud thud describes the sound the West Virginia University Basketball Team made when Coastal Carolina routed the Mountaineers 109-91 in the quarterfinals of the CBI at the WVU Coliseum Monday night. It was a record setting night. The Chanticleers 109 points are the most allowed by the Mountaineers in the 49-year history of the Coliseum. West Virginia’s 15-21 record means that a new record for losses in a season is in the books. The Mountaineers were a train wreck for much of the season, but a purge of the roster, either by dismissal or injury, led to a youthful lineup down the stretch that produced solid play and some nice wins.
The elevated play by the younger Mountaineers prompted coach Bob Huggins to enter his team into the College Basketball Invitational, in which a school buys an ‘invitation’ for $50,000. The decision to play in the CBI (aka the Cash Buy In tournament) was met with mixed opinions. One camp supported the idea, because it would give the team, which was beginning to emerge, a chance to play more games and practice more. Seemingly, a reasonable position.
The other camp complained that it was embarrassing to have to pay to play in the CBI and that exposing the team to potential embarrassing results could do more harm than good. While I understand the ‘lose-lose’ situation mentality, I generally disagree with the premise; figuring it’s best to just lace ‘em up, go play and not be looking for excuses. Monday’s result doesn’t change my overall position, but in this instance the negative Nellies may have had a good point.
For a team that was coming together before our eyes, it was a bit disturbing to see one of the main characters not take the floor with the starting lineup. Center Derek Culver did not start and did not play in the first half. There was no explanation, so we were left to guess what was going on. Turns out Culver was late for the pre game and Huggins benched him for the first half. His absence was noticeable as WVU struggled to rebound the ball, which led to CCU getting more put backs and run outs. Worse, the team chemistry that had been developing seemed way out of whack.
West Virginia trailed 50-36 at the half as the Chanticleers shot 49%. Culver entered the lineup in the second half, but Coastal went on a torrid shooting spree; shooting at around 80% for the first 10 minutes of the second half. They finished the half 26-39 from the field, or 67%. The Chanticleer’s shooting was phenomenal, but West Virginia’s inability to guard them was also on full display.
If there is good news it’s that only die hard fans of the two schools were watching, because there is virtually no national interest in the CBI and the only video was an internet stream. Huggins was subdued in his post game comments and he dropped this nugget. “This was a time to find out who is with us and who’s looking for a way out.”
This comment seems to suggest there may be more departures beyond Esa Ahmad, Wes Harris, Beetle Bolden and Trey Doomes. Stay tuned.