BY Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Let’s hope that the path followed by West Virginia’s football team (4-6, 2-5 Big 12) is not to be followed by the men’s basketball team.
Those young Mountaineers succumbed to Virginia Tech 87-82 in Tuesday’s meeting at Blacksburg, Va., in a non-conference game the Mountaineers certainly should have won.
They obviously committed too many mistakes in blowing an early 17-point lead.
That had to remind us of the WVU gridders’ heart-breaking 47-40 overtime defeat at the hands of the Texas Longhorns here last Saturday night. It was that team’s fourth loss in as many winnable games this season.
Getting back to men’s basketball, West Virginia made too many mistakes in allowing its leads to evaporate.
The Mountaineers, who had shot a sizzling 56 percent beating Mt. St. Mary’s in the season’s opener, made only 35.7 percent (25 of 70 attempts) against the Hokies. Tech shot 45.6 percent (26 of 57).
It appeared to some observers that some of the younger players were taking bad shots at times and that some of the older, more experienced players were having trouble in passing the ball properly.
Excessive fouling also was a problem. WVU was charged with 28 personal fouls, with forward Devin Williams and reserve Remi Dibo fouling out of the tight contest. Two others had four fouls each.
Since coach Bob Huggins has only eight scholarship players on his squad, could that become a major problem this year? The referees are calling contact much closer — and more often. It is something that seems to some observers as questionable rule changes.
That’s already extending the length of games, time–wise.
Virginia Tech was whistled for 25 personal fouls, losing only one player with five.
But the Hokies wound up winning the game at the foul line. They connected 30 of 38 free throws (78.5 percent). WVU cashed just 21 of 33 from the foul line (63.6 percent).
It’s likely that the Mountaineers were the favorite. Tech had lost by one point to USC Upstate, a small school in South Carolina in its opener.
Huggins lamented, “We screwed the game up in the first half. We got up (by) 17 and then we stopped guarding them.”
However, the veteran coach vowed that his talented young team will become “better and better and better” as the 2013-14 season moves along.
West Virginia returns to regional action on Sunday against old rival Duquesne at the WVU Coliseum. Tip-off time is 4 p.m. and the action will be televised by ROOT.