UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Sagaba Konate walked quietly out of the Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday armed with two doggy bag containers of food and a bottle of ketchup.
He said nothing, except to ask a local sports TV reporter a question about pictures, before walking out to the team bus with teammate Jermaine Haley. In the days leading up to West Virginia’s 83-70 loss to Rhode Island, Mountaineers’ coach Bob Huggins was expecting Konate to be his man in the middle.
That did not materialize, as West Virginia announced before the game that Konate was sitting it out with a recurring right knee injury.
Eight days earlier, Konate blocked seven shots against Pitt and recorded the 191st block of his career to set a school record. He spent his time against Rhode Island cheering on teammates from the bench, standing occasionally to point to an open player.
It was the second game Konate has missed with the sore knee and each one seemingly brought a little more frustration to coach Bob Huggins.
“It’s up to him and his brother when he plays and when he doesn’t play,” Huggins said.
Huggins did not specify which brother. Konate has 13 siblings in his family.
Konate’s older brother Bakary was a senior at Minnesota last season and has been said to be advising Sagaba on his future in professional basketball.
On his pregame radio show, Huggins spoke of the unnamed third party making a request for a fourth MRI to be performed on Sagaba’s knee.
“I learned a long time ago that you coach the guys who are here,” Huggins said. “I haven’t done a good enough job of coaching them obviously.”
Logan Routt, who earned his third career start in Konate’s absence, finished with five points and three rebounds.
After forcing 24 turnovers last week against Pitt, Huggins was upset with West Virginia’s lack of a pressing defense against Rhode Island.
The Rams committed just nine turnovers and the Mountaineers recorded only one steal.
“They have six steals and we have one,” Huggins said. “We’re supposed to be the best pressing team in America? We have one steal. We’re obviously not the best pressing team in America. Obviously, we suck at it, to be honest. We don’t make anything happen.”
Another bad time in Connecticut
The Mountaineers fell to 1-11 all-time in the state of Connecticut, which includes nine losses to UConn at their two home arenas.
West Virginia’s lone win came during the 1985 Preseason NIT by beating Auburn in Hartford.