Eron Harris and West Virginia trailed Texas by 30 in the Big 12 quarterfinals before suffering a 66-49 loss.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The ice bag strapped to Juwan Staten’s ankle put a chill in whatever postseason hopes West Virginia held. Ankle sprains can stretch day-to-day or week-to-week, and a bad wheel can be especially debilitating for a point guard who lives off explosive drives and zippy changes-of-direction.

Staten said not to worry. He’ll be back.

“Whether we play in a few days or a week or whatever, it doesn’t matter. The next game we play, I’ll be playing.”

On Friday, Staten was walking without crutches, but even if Staten’s ankle heals, what about his psyche and that of his teammates? Having sniffed the NCAA bubble for the past month, would West Virginia (17-15) manufacture excitement for an NIT berth? Or was the embarrassing Big 12 tournament exit against Texas a will breaker?

“Every game that we get to play together and build some more chemistry is great for the future,” Staten said. “Knowing that we’re not going to make it to the (NCAA) tournament is tough, but we still have games ahead of us.”

With a roster devoid of seniors, Eron Harris said any postseason bid would be a chance to continue development. Gary Browne promised the team would embrace whatever matchup awaits in whatever venue. And Kevin Noreen, irked by gaffes committed during the 66-49 loss to Texas, said several motivational points remain.

“If it’s not for a trophy, then we want to play for each other, for Coach Huggins, for team pride and for the people that have supported us all year,” Noreen said. “We can end the year on a high note … and get this bad taste out of our mouth.”

NIT bracketologist John Templon—yes, such a person exists—projected West Virginia as No. 3 seed in the Georgetown region. As of early Friday, Templon had the Mountaineers hosting a first-round NIT game against No. 6 seed Iona (22-10), the regular-season champion of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

And for those who belittle the quality NIT lineup, the Gaels currently have an RPI of 60, which is 27 spots higher than West Virginia’s.

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  • mad hatter

    this team reminds me very much of the beilein teams,,, we lived and died on the 3 pointer..
    i remember getting humbled badly one week when we weren't hitting the threes and the next game, we blew away a top 20 team. we just need some balance, and muscle.

  • barry

    let's hope juwan is back next yr... i like his play a lot, and you can easily see what life at wvu bb would be like without him.
    Feel fairly confident that we'll be invited to the not important tournie, but it means more practice time and more playing time.. Can't hurt.
    as for next yr. as per huggins, macon and holton will play, and be a huge plus for the team. I'm looking for a 25 win season, and maybe better, a big 12 championship and a really good seed to the big dance.

  • Toadman

    This years Mountaineer BBall team was a lot of fun to watch, but at times couldn't handle certain teams. (ie:Texas.) We have the core to a very good team and the chemistry seems to be there. What we need is more height and strength. Overall we can't bang in the paint with the big boys. If our perimeter shooting is off on a given day, we can't score in the paint, so our offense suffers. Our young guys have learned much this year about defense but by times seem confused and unable to react quickly. One or two big , physical inside players would really help. Good luck in the NIT and we look to next year to make the NCAA tournament.
    Great job Lady Eers! Go Mountaineeeeers!

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    I would never be upset to win the NIT. Not much fun to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but an honor to win the NIT. LETS GOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS.

    • Leroy j Gibbs

      I have said it before wvu wins the nit

  • pghmountaineer

    I heard it from an insider in the Athletic office that this year's highlight reel will be called "Wait Till Next Year-Part 3". They were thinking of going with "I'll Fix It-Part 2" but decided "Wait Till Next Year was a more optimistic title.

    Can't wait for my copy to come in the mail.

    • Steve

      Hi Pghmountaimeer. You still owe me $1000 from the end of January when you had posted that WVU would not win any more than two games. They ended up winning seven. Great call pghmoutaineer... You sure are a bright one LOL.

      • pghmountaineer

        What's your address? I'll send it right away.

        • Steve

          You can't send what you don't have. Personally I got the satisfaction of WVU proving all the haters like yourself wrong.

    • Aaron

      So what are we waiting until next year for?

  • Mark

    Really it's all up to the coaches. If they maintain a positive attitude it will rub off on the players. The NIT offers hope for a strong finish and some carryover value for next year. I hope our guys realize how close they are to being exceptional.

  • Independent View

    Nope, don't make that bet. I will not be watching--zero interest.
    If I want to watch some interesting BB, I'll wacth the girl's team and if it were possible, the WVU Rifle Team. Now there's some winners.

  • jwg66

    Mr Shakelfor & Aaron make some great points. Next year's team figures to be more experienced, deeper and more talented (if Jawaan does not declare). And Huggs has really done a good job making players NBA ready if they have the talent.
    However, I personally feel that he has made recruiting errors and has possibly given up on kids a bit early. This hurt our depth this year alot. Much of the attrition from the last 2 years has been like this. Kids that for one reason or another did not work out and would not have their scholarship renewed. Anyway, Pepper played well for Temple, Jennings was doing well on the west coast and Arkansas picked up K. Miles. Just believe that some of these kids could have helped us these last 2 years. If not, why so many departures over this time? That to me is staff decisions.
    I am hoping Noreen and Brown learn to score and that Macon and Holton add to our front line. Clearly, we are very close to W's. A few new adds to the current team gives me alot of hope for the future. The new facility is a huge plus too. Go Mountaineers.

    • wvrefugee

      Yep just think.....all of those other league teams will be a year older and better as well!!! Wait 'til next year!!! Horse Hockey! Give me a HC like Hoilberg or Drew or Belien anyday!

    • Aaron

      Staten is going to declare but he's not signing with an agent so if NBA executives tell him he's not likely to be a 1st round choice, he will likely be back at WVU. I expect that will happen.

      • TW EAGLE

        staten's skill set will not translate well into the pro game . . . 17-19 foot jumpers isn't going to be greeted with great acclaim in the nba . . . his inability to sink shots off the glass when driving is an even larger impediment to gaining nba status . . .

        the faster & taller players in the pros will negate any quickness he has in his game . . . the nba is a slow , lazy mans game now . . . almost akin to pro wrestling in its' desire to "showcase" individual players . . .

        • Aaron

          I'm confused. While I think one more year with Coach Huggins will only help Staten, I'm confused by one thing. You state that faster players will negate his game yet you call it a "slow" game. If it's a slow league, how will it "negate" Staten's (according to you) lack of speed?

          • TW EAGLE

            well , arron, you're certainly entitled to your opinion , and you never waste any bulletin board space expressing it . . . although you do possess some sporting knowledge , the tenor of your posts seems to vacillate between delusional (staten 1st round nba) and mean spirited attacks on posters who don't agree with your ill conceived concepts of the universe of sports . . . you've been careful not to throw rocks in my direction , till now . . . other than your verbosity , your posts aren't too much different from Big Larry or William (minus the personal attacks on Huggins) . . .

          • Aaron

            I surely hope you’re not a teacher because your ability in that capacity, for lack of a better word, s**ks. First, the pace of the NBA is not slow as teams are averaging the most combined points per game in 20 years. Granted, it's not the fun and gun games of the 80's and early 90's but scoring is up.

            Second, in that league, Juwan will not be a scorer, at least not initially. His quickness will allow him to drive and kick the ball to open shooters which plays to his strengths as his assist to turnover ratio demonstrate. The reason he "finishes" as much as he does at WVU is because he doesn't have a plethora of scorers spotting up to shoot the ball. That’s not an issue in the NBA.

            An NBA guard may very well be 6'4" but the PG is closer to 6'2" but at any rate, I honestly don't think that will be a problem. Isaiah Thomas was only 5'9 and he had a decent career if I recall. Chris Paul is right at 6’0, Kyrie Irvin is 6’2 and Tony Parker is 6’2. Rajon Rondo is 6’0 and Derrick Rose is just shy of 6’3.

            Finally, I'll presume your reading comprehension is on par with your basketball knowledge. I've stated numerous times that he's not ready for the NBA yet but if he works on his 3 point shot, and continues to improve at the pace he has over the last year, his skill set will translate very well in the professional game. You'd have to be one madd DA not to be able to see that.

          • TW EAGLE

            well aaron , i'll give you just one more FREE lesson . . .

            the nba only allows man defense . . . should help staten , but it won't . . . the pace of the nba is SLOW . . . just because the pace of the game (tempo) is slow , doesn't mean the players move in slow motion - COMPRENDE ? the average length of an nba guard is 6'41/2"
            meaning pretty much every player staten goes against will have a 10" reach on him . . .
            his drives to the basket will have to be thrown over this larger player . . .I. e. , it must be played off the glass . . .statens "touch" off the glass is "poor" to say the least - especially coming off his left hand . . . some team will give him a tryout , much like Cleveland did for Butler . . .

  • Marilyn

    We shouldn't forget the wonderful NIT championship in 2007 with John Beilein as coach. That win lead to greater success and great trips to NCAA tournaments. Let's encourage this team and coach and not be so negative. They have great things ahead of them as they get more experience and confidence.

  • Bill Wagner

    In every league, one team has another teams number. Ours happens to be Texas! That's all. With the exception of the K. St. away game, all the games were close either way. Texas got fired up to play us then the next game they got trampled by the opponent. Happened all year in the conference. I am anxious to see how we respond against a non conference opponent. Hopefully we will see some growth and maturity.

  • John S. Shackelfor

    Williams ought to face the rim and drive. Next season he will be able to put his back to the basket; not this year because he has no help inside. If Noreen would just shoot the ball on offense from the foul line or extended it would help. The skies would open up for everyone else. The other inside guy for WVU looks like he could develop...he looks quick and knows the rim. We need more muscle. If you continue to work with short benches you are going to have the same problems. No depth equals more losses.

  • Mike

    Does anyone think Huggs has altered his coaching and recruiting style to some degree from the way he used to do it at Cincy? He had such great success with Beilein 's shooters, and perhaps, has tried to include that in his program. Losing in the process, the hard-nose, tough defense and rebounding his teams were known for. Just thinking.

    • Steve

      Mike the team that made it to the Final Four was a tough hard noses defensive team,

      • Aaron

        That couldn't shoot worth a shinola. They played great defense and rebounded the ball on both ends of the court, something Huggins has been imploring current Mountaineer teams to do. Yet when he states that in post game interviews, the intelligence challenged accuse him of throwing players under the bus.

    • Aaron

      I guess the Sweet 16 team of 2007/08 could be classified a great success with Beilein recruits but other than Alex Ruoff, I'm not so sure they were great shooters. DeSean Butler was a career 43% shooter and Joe Alexander was a great athlete. Problably the best shooter was Wellington Smith but his percentage was high because he shot so little.

      At any rate, those teams certainly didn't win games and advance by out-scoring the opposition, they did it by playing great defense, a trait not taught by the previous coaching staff.

      That does beg the question though. Is it easier to teach great defenders the ability to shoot or to shoot great shooters to play defense?

      At any rate, can Huggins win with fans who lambaste his recruiting kids who have difficulty making the grade such as Macon but when he recruits kids who make the grade like Noreen, he's accused of wasting a scholarship?

      I for one am excited with the future of WV Basketball. t year and everyone back
      Minus the out of season defections that have killed the program, 4 returning seniors combined with the returning players and new recruits should propel WV to a great season.

      • mad hatter

        you make my brain hurt, just trying to find the answers to all your ,what ifs.
        wow aaron, u are a whiz kid, and should have you're own blog. you just make all of us look like idiots

        • Aaron

          "you just make all of us look like idiots"

          Thanks for the compliment but I don't want to take credit for something you do so well.

    • Shawn 108

      I do agree with that. He was a run and gun fast pace, hard nosed defense take the ball to the rack coach. I was so excited to get that and he has never done that here!!! Maybe next year

  • Independent View

    NIT--No Interest Tournament.

    • rekterx

      ... and yet you'll be watching.

      • ole sasquatch

        That's me. Not interested, but yet I will be watching anyway.

  • jay zoom

    well see - depends on the seeding. might be one and done again

  • Aaron

    For those who knock the NIT, they really don't know basketball. It's an opportunity to continue the season against quality teams. And if they can make a run as they did in 2007, it could be the catalyst for a great season next year.

    • Aaron

      Florida State, Indiana, NC State, Marquette, California, Minnesota, St. John's, Florida Gulf Coast, Clemson, Georgia, Maryland, Arkansas, Georgetown, and Missouri are some of the teams expected to join WVU in the NIT tournament

      If seeding holds true to form, #4 seed WVU will get at least 1 game at home against St. Mary's (CA) before heading to #1 seed Florida State.

      The added game against a team with balanced inside/outside scoring can do nothing but help this young team.

    • mad hatter

      i concur, but again isn't this obvious.

    • Shawn 108

      Agreed!! I still think we are one big guy away from being top 25 team. I don't know if anyone else feels this way but I feel like the outcast of the Big 12. We need to start winning or we will slip to a doormat in this what have you done for me lately kinda world. It will be hard to recruit if we don't start getting RESPECT. I love what Noreen said about playing for team, coach, PRIDE. Step up Mounties wherever you may be!!!

    • Correct, But

      That means many WVU fans don't know basketball (search a 2012 comment section for proof).

    • Wow

      Spot on Aaron.