WVU Leaders Showing "Tough Love" as Losses Pile Up - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Leaders Showing "Tough Love" as Losses Pile Up

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MORGANTOWN -

A young, inexperienced basketball team takes the court each time West Virginia faces a new Big 12 foe. We've heard it before, we've written and said it before and very quickly, we grow tired of the notion.

No basketball team wants to fall back on youth as an excuse and after playing 18 games it loses its validity. The three freshmen and one transfer who got a pass for being new to the team no longer view themselves as newcomers, despite what their play on the court may indicate.

Still, the veterans say they clearly haven't done enough work to bring those other teammates up to speed on what is expected and what must be demanded if the Mountaineers can climb their way out of the Big 12's cellar, a place that has become quite familiar.

"I just think it takes some more effort from myself, from Eron [Harris], from Terry [Henderson]," said junior guard Juwan Staten. "We've tried to be positive in practice, be role models in practice, but we might need to start getting onto people more."

An image of the WVU players pushing through practice as the more experience in the group hold their hands and offer encouragement comes to mind. It likely looks nothing at all like that, but Staten points out that sometimes the toughest criticism comes only from those who coach the team and not those who actually go out and perform on game day.

"I think once the coaches yell at you so many times, it just turns into a thing where you just start blocking them out," said Staten. "I think it really takes someone else, maybe a couple of us, to just start drilling things into people's heads so that they really understand how important it is."

A 2-3 start to the conference slate is enough to make anyone who experienced last season fear that this is the beginning of a here-we-go-again situation.

Eron Harris experienced it. In fact, it was all he knew of college basketball leading into this year and he had no intention of repeating the feeling. No one seemed to believe it was possible and yet a 22-point loss to Kansas State following a similarly poor effort at home against Texas may suggest otherwise.

"I think I'm just going to pray and keep playing 100 percent and control things that I can control," said Harris. "I can't control everything, but I'm going to control things I can control and I'm going to pray that we find the answer and that we do something. I don't want to feel like we felt last year."

Harris cannot control anyone else on the team, but he can certainly join Staten in the attempt to hammer it in his teammates' heads just what it will take to succeed.

There is a fine line here, though. This is a team that has always spoken about how close the players are and the relationship they have formed has been important in keeping the chemistry tight over the summer months and into the first semester.

Tough love and straight criticism are often blurred.
"We have a very close team," said Staten. "We get along on the court and off the court. We don't really do too much arguing. But yeah, I think we really need to start being more firm with each other and just getting each other to realize that it's really important and these games are must-win games."

Thirteen games remain in the regular season with nine coming against teams currently ranked in the nation's top 25. Nothing about the road ahead suggests a sudden rebound, but with such a young foundation and zero seniors on the roster, there must be a sense that Bob Huggins and his staff can win with this bunch when it is a year older.

Until then, Staten, Harris and Henderson have a tough task to get the rest of the Mountaineers to understand what is on the line and still left to be accomplished before this season runs out. 

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