The state of the West Virginia basketball program is strong. Following WVU’s upset victory over Iowa State, the chemistry, focus and direction of this team is better than ever.
The surprising departure of James “Beetle” Bolden may appear to be another challenge, yet another adversity that the team has to face and overcome, but Bolden, although productive at times, has largely not been himself this season and has ultimately become yet another distraction that needed removed.
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Although the team is only 2-4 since Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris were dismissed for violation of athletic department policies, there has been a major enhancement in teamwork, effort and chemistry in the last six games. The lineup of McCabe, Haley, Matthews, West and Culver have become a team capable of competing with any team in the Big 12.
One has to wonder what the team’s record would be if Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris were not a part of the team from Day 1. In addition, players like Emmitt Matthews, Jordan McCabe, Trey Doomes, Jermaine Haley, etc., etc., etc. would certainly be much farther along in their progression as collegiate players, and the teamwork and chemistry that we’re seeing now would have been even more advanced. This team is potentially an NCAA team this year without the distractions of Ahmad, Harris, Bolden and Konate.
With only nine scholarship players on the roster, this team could have competed in a relatively weak Big 12 Conference. Finishing the season on a strong note is far more important than how it was started, particularly when looking to the future and considering all of the core players that have led to the improvement will return.
If the end of this season isn’t reason enough to be optimistic about next season, enter incoming Freshmen Oscar Tshiebwe and Miles McBride. Coach Huggins wants players that are “tough, that lock opponents down, that don’t take any crap” and he got it with both Tshiebwe and McBride.
With the young core stepping up and coming together as a team late in the year and the tough, talented Freshman coming in, and Coach Huggins hitting the recruiting trail hard in the high school and JUCO ranks, the Mountaineers will be back in a big way next year and for years to come!
God bless West Virginia and may God continue to bless the Mountaineers!
Cover graphic by Musket Artworks