Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd

Right on cue

Last week the point here was that it would behoove the West Virginia University Men’s Basketball Team to figure out how to win a few road games if the Mountaineers want to retain their lofty post season projections. WVU defeated Iowa State 76-61 at the Coliseum last Wednesday to set up a road win opportunity at Oklahoma on Saturday. West Virginia entered the game as a three-point favorite, but fell short in Norman 69-59.
Adding to the disappointment is the fact that just prior to the game the NCAA Selection Committee revealed its mid season top 16 seeds. This tells us where the committee would have those teams seeded if the tournament was to begin at that moment. Well, low and behold, the committee had the Mountaineers generously on the two line in the West Region that would indicate WVU was their eighth team.
To many fans that kind of acknowledgement should be uplifting. To this aging fan, it’s hard to take good news like this without chasing it with cynicism. It’s not like WVU is a consistent threat to win national titles, or even conference championships for that matter, but there have been a few times the Mountaineers have headed to the top of the mountain only to be rudely turned away.
The biggest disappointment, to

me, was when WVU played Notre Dame for the National Championship in football in 1988 and Major Harris was knocked out of the game in the first quarter.  Then there was the 13-9 loss to 28-point underdog Pitt that kept West Virginia out of the title game. The basketball team made it to the Final Four in 2010 and DaSean Butler is knocked out of the game. There are plenty of other instances of WVU chasing smaller prizes and being derailed.
Sometimes as a West Virginia fan I feel like we’re cursed, or something to that effect, it’s like we just aren’t allowed to have nice things.
Want more gloom and doom?
In coach Bob Huggins two post game press conferences last week he alluded to some possible attitude shifts among some players. He indicated he was speaking of things that didn’t exist a few weeks earlier. Of course he didn’t name names, or go into detail, but if you tuned in after the 15-point win over ISU, you would have thought the losing coach was speaking.
Maybe it was coach speak, a tactic Huggins sometimes uses as a motivational tool, or maybe there are developing issues tearing away at the team that looked to have a very high ceiling not too many games ago. We’ll find out if this team has fight left this week as the Mountaineers host Kansas on Wednesday and travel to Baylor on Saturday, both teams were one seeds as of last Saturday’s reveal.
It’s important to note, if you want to watch, both games are on ESPN+, which means you’ll need wifi and a device to stream it. The Kansas game tips at 7 p.m. and Baylor will tip at 4 p.m.