Nobody saw this season coming
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 06:02
Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown hoisted a prayer of a shot attempt while falling out of bounds, more than 35 feet from the basket, with the shot clock running down on the visiting 14th-ranked Cowboys in the second half Saturday.
Brown’s heave fell well short.
But the Cowboys’ Mike Cobbins was able to catch the shot in the paint and drop it into the net just before the shot clock expired, while four Mountaineers stood in unison – hands on their hips –
watching Cobbins put the finishing touches on his team’s eventual 73-57 road victory against West Virginia.
That sequence, in a nutshell, could describe the Mountaineers’ up-and-down (but mostly down) 2013 season.
West Virginia was in position to block out Mike Cobbins and play the full 35 seconds of the shot clock but, for whatever reason, it fell short.
It was not long after the Mountaineers fell to 13-14 on the season and 6-8 in Big 12 play that the realization of head coach Bob Huggins’ team not making the NCAA tournament for the first time since his hiring began to set in.
There would be no miraculous run to end the regular season and grab an at-large bid.
There would be no rebound from the team’s worst start to a season in nearly a decade.
Barring an unthinkable run at a Big 12 title in Kansas City in a couple of weeks, there will be no NCAA tournament and, quite possibly, no postseason appearance at all.
After West Virginia received some votes to be in the in preseason top 25, after CBS’ Jeff Goodman picked Huggins to win National Coach of the Year in the preseason and after multiple talented transfers helped fill last season’s graduates, what’s to blame for a season no one expected?
No, the 2013 Mountaineers weren’t expected to compete for a Big 12 title or make a big splash in postseason play.
But the veteran Huggins would be able to at least get the talented bunch to their sixth-straight appearance in the Big Dance, right?
Huggins even admitted he had inaccurately set expectations for this season’s squad when he said, "I don’t know if I’ve ever misjudged a group as much as I misjudged this group," after his team fell on the road to Baylor last week.
The point is the struggles of this season’s team
were completely unexpected.
This is a team that clearly has talent but, for whatever reason, can’t seem to put it all together.
It has very talented freshmen in Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, who are going to score a lot of points in a West Virginia uniform.
It has talented sophomores in Jabarie Hinds and Juwan Staten, both of whom have shown
glimpses of their potential throughout the season.
It has players like Keaton Miles, who started 30 games a year ago, and Aaron Brown, a 3-star recruit out of high school who rarely sees the floor but could start in many Division 1 schools.
It has a talented NBA prospect in junior Aaric Murray.
It even has a guy who is always in the right place at the right time and may have one of the biggest hearts to ever wear a West Virginia uniform in Kevin Noreen.
But for questions no one knows the answer to – including Huggins – this is a team that just couldn’t seem to mesh.