2018-01-17 / Sports

Chip Shots

by Jim Buzzerd


This time last week fans of the West Virginia University Men’s Basketball Team were agog over their team’s ascension to number two in the national poll. This week those same fans are digesting a two game losing streak with losses at Texas Tech and at home to Kansas. Granted, both losses were to other Top 10 teams, but the Mountaineers held double digit leads in the second half of both games and could not close out their opponent. WVU just lost a great opportunity to solidify themselves atop the college basketball world.

There are many who scoff at the notion that this is all just part of being a Mountaineer fan. You know, just when things are looking great, the other shoe falls. It’s happened regularly over the years in football and basketball and many know exactly what I’m talking about. In this case my thought was that WVU deserved to be ranked second based on their body of work. That doesn’t mean I thought they would be able to sustain that status with the Big 12 schedule looming, quite the contrary.

It is admittedly a bit frustrating to watch the Mountaineers outplay two opponents in the first half of the last two games only to become ineffective on both offense and defense in the second half. At times it appears like WVU is running out of gas, which is disturbing if true, given the we’re only half way through the season if you include post season tournament action. Point guard Jevon Carter is logging 35 minutes a game and will be hard pressed to play at his frenetic pace the rest of the season.

Last week I mentioned the return of forward Esa Ahmad from his half season suspension and how his addition may affect team chemistry. In two games since his return Ahmad is averaging 16 points a game and looks pretty good considering his season has just begun.

But did his return mess up the team chemistry?

I don’t think there’s a definitive answer to that, but in some ways it seems as though it may have. WVU should be better with Ahmad in the lineup and his play has been good in two games. Some others on the team have seemed to disappear since Ahmad’s return. Lamont West was having a fine season and has been largely ineffective in the last week.

Freshman Teddy Allen, who was gangbusters and instant offense in the first three conference games, was called for four fouls in five minutes against Baylor last week and was a non-factor. At Tech Saturday Allen forced a couple plays early and was pulled by coach Bob Huggins. Allen was visibly unhappy about being pulled as he pouted on the bench. In what has become typical of Huggins, the coach chose to bench Allen in Monday’s game with Kansas, presumably to enforce to Allen that there is no ‘I’ in TEAM.

Again, while the chemistry seems off a bit and WVU is 0- 2 with Ahmad, I’ll call it inconclusive for now. WVU needs Ahmad to compete at the top of the league; though it may take some stirring of the pot to get the mojo back.

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I thought the only thing that

I thought the only thing that Ahmad could bring to the team was "good". I thought adding length to the bench, an extra big guy for more rebounds, and extra scoring would all be good.