WVU Freshmen Stopped Competing in Loss to Kent State - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Freshmen Stopped Competing in Loss to Kent State

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MORGANTOWN -

Seven WVU freshmen took the floor against Kent State Tuesday morning. Those seven freshmen were given a big opportunity to log plenty of minutes in the game. They combined to score 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 85 minutes. According to the upperclassmen on the team, none of them took advantage of that opportunity in a 70-60 loss.

"We got to get them to recognize their worth on this team," Senior Forward Kevin Jones stated. "Because me and Truck and Turk know a lot of things, but aren't going to be able to get it all done by ourselves."

"That is something they got to learn," Senior Guard Truck Bryant said. "You can't take plays off in college. It's rough and you got to be motivated every time you are on the court. You can always come back and that's what we did in the past. We always came back."

Kent State used a 20-4 run in the second half to ultimately pull away from the Mountaineers and win by 10.

"At the four minute mark, I just see everybody down," Bryant said. "Everybody's down and I'm like, the game ain't over. There is still four minutes left and we are down 10. There is still a lot of game left."

"I can put 25 reasons right now why we lost," Junior Forward Deniz Kilicli said. "It comes down to one thing. If you don't compete, we will lose every game. Division two, division three, streetball, you will lose at everything if you don't compete."

That appears to be the hardest aspect of this loss for the team to swallow. Head Coach Bob Huggins preaches to every team the importance of playing hard on every play. That is a message these freshmen have yet to receive.

"Deniz and KJ are trying like crazy to rebound missed free throws and I got a freshman just standing over there just watching them," Huggins said. "To me that is inexcusable because that is lack of effort. We're going to do some dumb stuff and make some bad plays, but our effort shouldn't change."

The young players will make mistakes. That is a natural part of learning to play at a higher level. The upperclassmen viewed what happened on Tuesday as something other than that.

"It's not a mistake," Kilicli said. "A mistake is something you can fix. I think we executed better than what we did before. It's not that. But, when somebody runs the ball and you are just like, huh, I'm not going to run back, that is just not competing. If you are not getting opposite when you are supposed to get opposite, that is not competing. You are not even attempting to do anything. That is not good."

The upperclassmen say they will not tolerate their teammates not competing. They intend to send a stronger message to that group of players.

"Last year, me and Joe (Mazzulla), we got into a fight because he thought I wasn't competing enough," Kilicli said. "That's what happened last year and we weren't as talented as we are this year and we were beating everybody that we were supposed to beat. I think I am going to go to that one, Joe Mazzulla's style of getting people to practice. I think that is what I am going to do."

"You can't motivate somebody by always being nice," Bryant said. "It will probably take a little bit of that."

This young team has just two seniors on the roster. Bryant and Jones have high expectations for their final season in a WVU uniform. They realize those goals will not be achieved without the help of the younger players.

"We need them as much as they need us," Jones said. "We got to get that through their heads that we need them to play every possession for us to be good. Once that all comes together I think we'll be a really good team."

"We got to keep them motivated during the game," Bryant said. "We need to play better because when we are playing better they seem like they are into it. But there are going to be rough days too. We got to stick together and try to get the win."

Huggins intends to try to find out which of the freshmen want to play and indicated he may shorten his bench once he finds that group of players.

"The bottom line is we got to find three or four of those guys that will play all the time," Huggins said. "Three or four of those guys that won't take plays off, three or four of those guys that will say ‘hey, I'm tired give me a blow' or that can play until I can get them a blow, that will know what they are doing."

Huggins and his upperclassmen will have very little time to get that message across. WVU hosts Alcorn State Thursday night.

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