WVU thinks Marshall win could be ‘turning point’
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 04:12
Wednesday night’s game against Marshall signaled the beginning of an important four-game stretch of the West Virginia men’s basketball team’s schedule.
With matchups against Virginia Tech, Duquesne and No. 3 Michigan on the horizon, the Mountaineers are preparing for a group of games that will be huge in readying them for a grueling Big 12 Conference schedule.
And that’s why the players thought that the Capital Classic could serve as a turning point for a team that was reeling a few weeks ago coming off a disappointing showing in the Old Spice Classic.
"We came together and said, ‘You know what, we’re not losing this game,’ " said senior forward Deniz Kilicli. "They tried everything. They tried playing hard, they tried shooting the ball well, and they couldn’t. They tried talking trash, and that didn’t work either."
For most of the games the Mountaineers have lost this season, they have been in the game late with a chance to come away with a victory if the ball bounced their way a few times.
But they hadn’t been able to get a lead late in the game and close a team out.
West Virginia was finally able to do just that Wednesday night against a Marshall team that is a lot better than a majority of the teams WVU has taken on up to this point in the season.
It’s a win like this that will not only look good for the Mountaineers’ NCAA tournament resume when March rolls around, but it gave a team that could have used the experience of pulling off a win in a close game in a tough environment exactly what it needed.
"Every game that we’ve had besides Marist and VMI have kind of been close game," said sophomore point guard Juwan Staten. "For us to be able to come out and close in this game was big for us, because that’s something we’ve struggled with.
"We’re going to take this momentum into the next game and hopefully keep that up and keep winning."
The Mountaineers will need all the momentum they need heading into the next few games.
Although the Marshall game is a little different than what WVU is going to see in the next few games – and possibly the rest of the games on the schedule – West Virginia came up tough when it mattered most.
Emotions ran high, and after a brawl almost erupted on the floor during the closing minutes of the game, the suddenly short-handed Mountaineers were able to come away with the win in a high-pressure situation.
Knowing how to handle situations like that in close games will be something that will be vital for the Mountaineers later in the season.
"The guys responded well. We kept playing," Kilicli said. "Nobody got down … It was the perfect time to play this game. You can’t make mistakes, and you have to be really careful, and I think we executed and did those things tonight."
Throughout everything that happened toward the end, when WVU could have fallen apart, it came together.
And that could be the sign of a good team if the Mountaineers can consistently make plays when they need to like they did Wednesday night.
"We’re constantly preaching family. That got taken a little bit out of perspective with the scuffle. That wasn’t smart," Staten said. "At the end of the day, we figure our team is our family and we’re all we have.
"The five players on the court after that had to pull together and do whatever we could to get the win."