Intense, Physical Play Defines Capital Rivalry - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Intense, Physical Play Defines Capital Rivalry

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CHARLESTON -

Juwan Staten said he was tripped. The video shows a far more painful explanation.

With 1:35 left in West Virginia's 69-59 win over Marshall, Staten drove through the lane, missed a layup and as Deniz Kilicli put back the rock, the Herd's Robert Goff kicked WVU's point guard in a place no man ever should.

In response, the Mountaineers came to Staten's aid, but in a manner head coach Bob Huggins wished they wouldn't have. Four players – Aaric Murray, Jabarie Hinds, Terry Henderson and Eron Harris – left the team bench and upon official review were ejected from the game.

"One of our teammates was on the ground," sophomore Gary Browne explained. "We're a family, so we come back and pick him up and grab him and make sure he's good. It's not like we were going to get into a fight or anything. We're all family, so we all take care of each other."

The impact could have been more significant than playing the final few seconds without four players who may not have reentered the game anyway, but Huggins says he was assured by an official after the game that because it was not a fighting situation, his players wouldn't face a one-game suspension.

The intensity that built up to that moment was substantial enough that it could be felt throughout the Civic Center, from the floor all the way up to the fans in the nosebleeds.

Some of the Mountaineer players said after the game that a part of the scouting report head coach Bob Huggins had given them leading up to the matchup was that the Marshall players may do quite a bit of talking.
"I was trying to avoid our guys reacting," Huggins said. "What you try to do is you try to prepare guys for everything you think might happen. That's all we did, but our guys didn't do as good of a job as I wanted them to and I told them, ‘Shut up, walk away.'"

Huggins wasn't totally thrilled with the way his message was interpreted as he shepherded multiple players back to the bench following Goff's kick, but in finishing out the final minute through multiple subsequent technical fouls, WVU showed it was able to keep its head on straight and come away with the win.

"If you're on the court, you can hear it," Deniz Kilicli said. "They're talking all the time and I like it … I'm always laughing at them, so they get pissed off more, I think, when I do that."

As the clock ticked down, West Virginia's student section began reciting a chant that seems to accompany a victory over Marshall.

"Not our rival," they said.

But what constitutes a rival? If Marshall isn't still a rivalry on the basketball schedule when compared to the conference play, what is? Gary Browne, for one, thinks this Capital Classic still holds their attention for what it means within the Mountain State.
"I come from another country, so I play a lot of international teams," says Browne. "This game, to me, means like Puerto Rico playing against Mexico. I love this game because it brings the whole state to come to the game and watch us and support us."

Huggins has been a part of some significant games with more on the line than simply conference standings through his career. When he thinks of a rivalry, though, his opinion is one more based on his team's success than on the storied history of a specific series.

He says when he coached at Cincinnati, the Bearcats were everyone's rival because they won.

West Virginia is not at that point, not by a long shot. They are coming into a conference that is mostly unfamiliar and unattached to anything related to Mountaineers basketball and so a game like this one holds a bigger meaning, regardless of its failings in football.

Next up is another nearby school in Virginia Tech, which was once certainly viewed as a rival when a member of the Big East. A win over Marshall is solid preparation for a quality Hokies team on the horizon.

On Wednesday, though, the electricity in the Civic Center and the way in which WVU handled it to persevere, proved that there is some fight to this team. Luckily for Huggins, it is not the type of fighting that will leave him four players short on Saturday.

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