Downward Spiral Continues for Mountaineers - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Downward Spiral Continues for Mountaineers

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MORGANTOWN -

The question of just what is wrong with this year's edition of the West Virginia men's basketball team has become a difficult one.

It isn't tough because the answer cannot be pinpointed, but rather because if it were a multiple choice exam, the correct selection would be "all of the above."

Huggins has said multiple times in his postgame chats with the media that he accepts responsibility for what transpires on the court, but more than the schemes and the inability to execute, it seems that he is speaking about the players he recruited.

We have seen Huggins' coaching pay off in the past at West Virginia and in years before as he has racked up his 718 wins, but he didn't do it without players. The fact that he has thrown 12 different players into the starting lineup at times this season shows that he doesn't know what he has in terms of personnel.

On Saturday, the plan was to go small. Get four guards on the floor to start the game and abandon a tandem of Deniz Kilicli and Aaric Murray that was supposed to be the focus and a reason for excitement back in November.

But the lack of size down low simply opened more opportunities for the Boilermakers to score close while the Mountaineers could find no such success, getting outscored by 16 in the paint.

Add the fact that Terry Henderson, one of the team's best scoring options, was against sidelined with a back injury did not make things any better.

Of those in the starting lineup, Staten made four shots. The other four were just 6-of-27 from the floor, with the team as a whole hitting on a dismal 29 percent of its field goals.

The West Virginia basketball team has become a guess and check operation. Throw potential solutions at the problem and see what works, what doesn't.

But as evidenced by continuing failed attempts to find the perfect starting lineup, none of the possible fixes can stick. They aren't given time to because as quickly as a decision is made to make a change, it is abandoned when it proves ineffective.

In one six-minute stretch, the Mountaineers guards were called for three double dribbles. Each of them – Staten, Browne and Hinds – made one of the sillier mistakes in basketball.

The double dribble rears its head so infrequently that forgetting it even exists through the course of the game would be understandable. And there, in one half, West Virginia's top three ball handlers committed the violation.

Big picture, those weren't the three plays that lost the game, but the ineptitude this team shows at times can be summed up in complete lapses like those that lead to such foolish turnovers.

These are the players who Huggins brought to West Virginia. They don't make shots, they struggle running the offense to find shots in the first place, they make mental and physical errors that a team should not be making 17 games into the season.

There are stretches, so few and far between, when the Mountaineers show life and smarts and basketball that you may actually want to tune in for. Too often, they do the opposite.

At some point, and that point may have already been reached, the lack of solutions to what looks like an wheels-fallen-off operation will catch up with WVU in every aspect of the sport.

They are fragile and the fear in a situation like what they are currently experiencing is that it will leave the court on game days and infiltrate practice, classes and communication.

A 27-point loss is humbling, but now the Mountaineers are tasked with trying to buck a trend. There is little in an 8-9 start to indicate that the answers are waiting just around the corner.

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