WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

Feb. 22 it is!

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We really should have done this before, because Bob Huggins is good for at least one team-questioning press conference every season that goes sideways — the Mountaineers are heading that way quickly. And if we’d put together a pool and had you pick dates, you would have won if you picked Saturday evening.

WVU’s coach seemed really down on his team for the first time this season, a season when he’s been measured and patient and optimistic for most occasions.

But after a home loss to Baylor, Huggins, who watched his team play weakly in the areas it sought to protect, questioned WVU’s “commitment to excellence.”

“If you go out and know your guy is going drive it right because he hasn’t driven it left all year and you let him drive it right, that’s not commitment,” the Mountaineers coach said. “If you know your guy has to turn over his left shoulder because that’s the only way he can turn and you continually let him do that, that’s not commitment. When you’re screaming after a timeout so they get where they’re supposed to get to run a set, that’s not commitment.

“We had a week. They all have iPads. They all have all the breakdowns and the breakdowns for the people they’re going to guard. I’m not sure what they did. Maybe they played Spider on their iPads, but they sure as hell didn’t watch tape.”

You know and I know WVU is in a tough spot right now and can see the NCAA Tournament getting smaller and smaller off in the distance, though, true, there are opportunities to pull it much closer. But no team that’s sub-.500 in Big 12 play has ever made the dance as an at-large. Six 14-loss teams have made the field as an at-large selection. WVU is really getting really close, and though those aren’t deal-breakers, they have merit.

The Mountaineers aren’t surging, either, and when asked Monday about Terry Henderson, Huggins said he didn’t have an update — which makes you think that wasn’t a case of the sniffles that kept him out against Baylor. On top of that, the defense just doesn’t deliver, and Huggins had never allowed 88 points in back-to-back games and hasn’t missed the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons since his first two years at Cincinnati.

But let’s go back a little further for some interesting history about the Mountaineers and this team’s rather obvious problem with and against size. They’re about to do something really unusual.

It has been a season of inferior on the interior for the Mountaineers.

WVU has been outscored in the paint in six consecutive games. That’ll happen to a team when its top three scorers – in this case Staten, Harris and Terry Henderson – have heights of 6-1, 6-3 and 6-4.

The last time the Mountaineers’ top three scorers were all under 6-6 was 1986, when Dale Blaney, Holman Harley and Renardo Brown led the way.