While the Mountaineers are on their European trip in Italy this month, an opportunity has arisen to do something for the armed forces stationed at Aviano Air Force Base near Venice.
"I think it’s great for the troops," WVU coach Bob Huggins said prior to the departure of the team for the trip. "It might give them the opportunity to take their minds off what they have to do on a day to day basis. I hope that is what it is, anyway."
The Mountaineers will be at the base Wednesday along with the men’s basketball team from the University of Illinois.
West Virginia and Illinois will take on military teams in separate 10-minute exhibitions. Then Mountaineers and Illini will then play one another in a 20-minute scrimmage. The event will also include a slam dunk contest involving the WVU and Illinois players. All while the troops and their families watch.
"We will also do some youth clinics so the players will be able to spend some time with (service personnel ) children," Huggins said. "To me, that is a lot more important than the scrimmage itself. .
"That is a very high security base that we will be on," Huggins added. "The military personnel don’t have a lot of access to some of the things that we take for granted."
Mountaineer freshman Keaton Miles feels privileged to be able to entertain the troops.
"I really feel a big amount of respect for the job they do," Miles said. "They go through some things that most of us don’t have to go through. We don’t see behind the scenes that they are protecting us. So it’s big."
"Just to get to be able to play in front of some of the people who fight for our freedom is big," WVU senior Kevin Jones said. "We are going to go out there and try to give them a show."
The Mountaineer traveling party has enjoyed three days of site seeing in Rome since their last game on the tour back on Thursday. The team will travel from Rome to Venice Tuesday and then from Venice to Forli on Friday. The team has two more games scheduled on Friday and Saturday prior to the return trip home on Sunday.