Frustration Shows As WVU Drops Five of Six - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Frustration Shows As WVU Drops Five of Six


There is a frustration running through the WVU basketball team that changes the complexion of a room. You can feel it from the players, the coaches and anyone involved with the program.

Frustrated play on the court, frustrated actions along the bench and frustrated voices in the postgame interviews.

Losing five of six games can do that to a team, especially one that prior to the recent turn for the worse was feeling pretty good about itself.

The Mountaineers had confidence, excitement and just plain happiness. Not one of those emotions made its way off the court when the final buzzer sounded Saturday.

After falling to Louisville in a game that was easily within his team's grasp, head coach Bob Huggins found the last official to exit through the tunnel and gave him a piece of his mind, the frustrations that had built up in 40 minutes of what he felt was poor officiating.

In many of the final timeouts of the game, associate head coach Larry Harrison was the one with clipboard in hand as Huggins sought some sort of explanation from John Cahill, Brian O'Connell or John Gaffney.

Cahill engaged in conversation with Huggins, but when asked if he was given any reasoning for some of the calls he witnessed, the head coach simply said, "No."

But he expressed his dismay in at least one aspect of the officiating with his comment regarding Louisville press, which confused the Mountaineers late and took away from the rhythm of their offensive attack.

"When you are allowed to play that way, then it is a great strategy. That's what I think," said Huggins.

Earlier in the game, Deniz Kilicli picked up his second foul, one he felt was undeserved. Rather than simply return to play out the next defensive possession or take a seat on the bench, he elected to toss the ball sky-high. That moved earned him a technical, his third foul, and a premature end to his first half.

"I don't let him do that in practice. Why would he do that in a game when I don't let him do that in practice? Does that make any sense?" Huggins asked after the game.

Clearly that message was lost on Kilicli, though. When he fouled out with 1:43 left in the game, he again threw the ball in the air. This time, for whatever reason, he was not issued a technical foul.

Kilicli is no stranger to foul trouble, or even to fouling out of a game, but he didn't hold in his emotions this time. He let them out for anyone paying attention to get a nice look at.

It may have just been done in the heat of the moment, or maybe it was the culmination of weeks' worth of losing that caught up to the Mountaineer forward. Maybe it was panic that a win over a team higher in the Big East standings was slipping away.

Maybe the fear of the NCAA tournament slipping away got to him.

"We're right there every time, we just can't get over that hump," Truck Bryant said after the game. "It is depressing to lose so much. But at the end of the day, we've got five games left."

The messages after these games must be fairly similar, if not exactly the same. Many of the losses have occurred in a fashion that makes them difficult to swallow for the team on the wrong end of the score. Huggins tries to tell his players that it isn't time to panic, but rather time to refocus and push just that little bit more to come out on top.

"I told them before the game that we are this far away from being good. This far away," Huggins says, showing with his fingers just how close he believes his team is. "We are that far away from somebody who is supposed to switch that doesn't switch. We are that far away from somebody making free throws. Standing up like a man and making free throws at the end of the games. We are that far away from getting rebounds."

Through each of these five games, the players' answers have become full of more confusion and concern and show a group of players that are lost. Each time it seems that their head coach has guided them down a well-lit path it darkens.

There is still hope for this team, but it must start in that locker room. It must start with confidence that the goal of a successful postseason run can be achieved.

With each loss, the doubts rise higher and the faith diminishes.

It must be frustrating. How much longer can they stomach it before it boils over?

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