Mountaineers Embarrassed, Lost Late in Season - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Embarrassed, Lost Late in Season


Frustration has boiled over into anger as West Virginia basketball continues its fall form grace under Bob Huggins this season.

With a 13-14 record overall and fresh off another game that had the home crowd pushing to the exits early in the second half, a new emotion continues to get play more and more in the team's interview sessions.

But it's something the head coach says he's felt since the season opened out in Spokane, Wash.

"I've been embarrassed since the first game," Huggins said, flatly.

His players have been, too. Their embarrassment begins on the court, extends into the locker room and then infiltrates everyday life.

They feel it when they leave the privacy of their campus homes and move about through their routine from class to class and everywhere their role as a student requires them to appear before getting back to the safety of the gym where the only people who can judge them are those who are right there in the same boat.

"It's real tough," sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds says. "I just have my hoodie on around campus, just go from Point A to Point B. If I see somebody I know, I stop, but that's about it."

Kevin Noreen, who sounded dejected through his entire post game interview as he reflected on the build up of losses this season, left no doubt that the rest of Hinds' teammates agree that the feeling associated with the poor results became embarrassing quite some time ago.

"Absolutely. People expect excellence and we're not providing that," said Noreen. "It's hard to go to class, it's hard to walk around here, there's nothing right now we can hang our hats on and like I said before, something has to change."

Facing a losing record for the first time under Huggins and for the first time at WVU since 2003, Noreen and company know the task to close out the schedule on some sort of positive note is becoming increasingly difficult. He admits that with each setback, the motivation to push forward slips.

"It does, but the thing that we should be doing is getting hungrier from these losses and that should be motivation to go out and practice harder and play harder," says Noreen. "Huggs always tells us about his teams in Cincinnati, you lose a game and you wouldn't want to be that opposing team the game after … It's just no fight with us. We've got to know what we're doing out there and we don't care enough."

Beyond the lack of fight, there are a two glaring problems in that last statement.

First of all, the sophomore forward says the players don't know what they're doing in the games. Many observers could see as much from watching them play, but poor execution and just not being aware of what you're supposed to run are two different things. Some on West Virginia's roster exhibit the latter.

Noreen recalls his own freshman year to point out how his game had to develop as he was getting a grasp of Huggins' system.

"I didn't know what was going on and guys like Joe [Mazzulla] and Cam [Thoroughman] took me aside and helped me learn things, but some of these guys aren't freshmen. It's their second year and they don't know plays. It's just not good enough right now," Noreen says.

Not knowing plays keeps some of the athletes out of the lineup, but it also slows the progression of those who do make it into the game. No one on this team has said this season that they are incapable of losing if they don't make a shot, but running the offense is a different story.

"Huggs has had teams in the past [that] can't shoot, can't score, but that's when they run offense," says Noreen. "My first year here was like that with Joe [Mazzulla] and Cam [Thoroughman] and John Flowers, all of those guys ran offense and wore the other team down and we can't run offense because some of our guys don't know sets and as late as it is in the year, that can't happen.

"As one of the leaders, I take some responsibility for that because I need to prepare them better. I might not be the most athletic, but I do know what's going on and I've got to do a better job of helping guys out."

The second part of Noreen's statement was that the team doesn't care enough. The tone of his own voice made it clear he couldn't count himself among those who don't care, but Huggins said something along the same lines when he spoke with the media.

Huggins was asked after the loss to Oklahoma State if he believed the rest of his team felt embarrassed by the performance as he said he was.

"I don't think they do, no," he said. "I think there are some. I think Deniz [Kilicli] does."

Noreen remains confident that the number of players on the team who care outweighs that of those who don't and the results will show in the effort on the floor, if not the outcome on the scoreboard.

"We'll never quit, but at the same time, it looks pretty bad when you lose by, I think it was 16," Noreen says of the 73-57 loss to the Cowboys. "It looks like we packed it in there. That's not the case. That won't be the case."

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