Mountaineers Must Maintain Hunger to Build on Win - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Must Maintain Hunger to Build on Win


It isn't too often these days that West Virginia basketball players get to discuss victories. When they have come, soon after the excitement of wins is overshadowed and pushed aside in favor of the solemnity of a loss.

Those more recent wins – over bottom half Big East teams Providence and Pittsburgh – evoked conversation of confidence for a Mountaineers squad that hadn't had much throughout its losing streak.

Seniors Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones continued to express the fact that all they needed to do was win and they would be back on track. The problem is, that notion never panned out.

After defeating Providence, WVU lost two straight. A win over Pittsburgh was followed by an embarrassment at Notre Dame and a heartbreaker against Marquette.

Now they have another victory. Again, it's one over a team stuck in the basement of the conference. There is no real glory in taking down DePaul – the same Blue Demons that will be playing in the first game of the Big East tournament as the lowest seed in New York City.

So even though the mood was much lighter after the 92-75 final, that cushy feeling cannot continue.

West Virginia needs to maintain the hunger that accompanies starvation for victories.

"We've got to be hungry," says Bryant. "We're about to play a good team in South Florida, go down there, an away game at that. I mean, that's a huge game for us. That's a game that we need to win and we will be ready to play."

There is no other option at this point. Lose and any confidence that the result over DePaul created is again wiped away at the worst possible time – the postseason.

Win and you carry momentum – or at least the knowledge that you can get the job done – into Madison Square Garden.

South Florida is preparing for what some are calling the biggest game in school history as the Bulls fight for a position in the NCAA Tournament. The home atmosphere should be downright electric and the hostility toward the Mountaineers evident.

Win in that environment and the neutral site in New York will seem like nothing.

Bob Huggins believes his team is ready to make a run, or is at the very least capable of one.

"I think we're capable," he said after beating DePaul. "I talked to Cal [Kentucky Coach John Calipari] last night and Cal says, ‘I watch your team, Huggs, you're not that far away from being good.' That's kind of what I said a week ago, we just don't finish anything. I think everyone thinks that."

Finishing a game is one thing, but finishing a season is much bigger than that.

There have been teams to catch fire in a conference tournament and close out strong. Just look at last year's example in Connecticut, which lost its final regular season games to West Virginia and Notre Dame and then rattled off 11-straight to win a national championship.

Those Huskies finished the regular season with a 9-9 conference record just as WVU would do with a win on Saturday.

That isn't to say there are very many similarities between the two or that Mountaineer fans should be holding their breath that a big postseason run is coming their way. It just isn't very likely.

But look what we're talking about now. All the possibilities that exist if WVU somehow continues to win. What about this team in recent weeks has led anyone to believe that a winning streak is even possible for the Mountaineers? So far, they have shown the exact opposite through their inability to finish.

That is why they need to fight as though they are still losing, even if they do it with the confidence of a team that is 1-0 in its last outing.

"I think we just have to keep that hunger and fight and know that we can lose and from here on out it's win or go home," says freshman Keaton Miles. "We want to keep on winning and be the last one standing."

It all begins with extending the winning streak to two games for the first time since January. Only then can the Mountaineers focus on that 10- or 11-game run to be the last one standing.

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