Heard this over the weekend, and it’s not a surprise, but it’s not great news, either. Bob Huggins confirmed WVU’s contingent backed out of the Pittsburgh Basketball Club’s summer pro-am.
It’s not great news because, obviously, you get better by playing games and it’s a heck of a lot more fun and productive if you’re not doing it against the same group of teammates in the same practice facility every day.
Also, the Mountaineers will have a lot of new players this season. You’d like those first-year guys, whether from high school, junior college or the bench, to get rolling as soon as possible. The pro-am was a great asset for those players.
It’s not a surprise for a few reasons. First, the NCAA stepped all over the thing by pushing a nonsensical rule that said no more than two college teammates could play on a certified summer league team. In the past, the ability to stack a roster with college teammates made the leagues so appealing. It was an incubator for the fall, and it tended to make for good games because you’d have some teams that practiced together on campus and then went to Greentree to strut their stuff. It was entirely constructive.
Now you’ve got jagged teams — you think WVU and Pitt players are sharing the ball in their games? — and, as a result, more teams. Take just the PBC as an example: It has to accommodate players from Pitt, WVU, Duquesne, Robert Morris, so on and so forth. It can only put two Panthers or Colonials on the same roster. The rest of them have to go somewhere, which means more teams and more … watered-down rosters. Bleh.
And then there’s this one thing we’ve discussed a bunch this summer: Cost of living. It’s 70 miles from the Coliseum to Montour High in McKees Rocks — and it can feel much longer with rush hour traffic that players encounter if they play early games. Gas prices, you probably know, are up and gas costs more in West Virginia. That’s a factor and there aren’t a lot of ways around it. Huggins said “transportation is a real problem. Our guys don’t have cars. Only a few.”