MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, West Virginia walked off the court at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City after topping Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament. 18 hours later, the Mountaineers were back on that same floor, tasked with taking down a top-seeded and well-rested Kansas team.
With several minutes to go, it was clear to onlookers that WVU was not going to achieve that task. The Mountaineers were struggling to shoot and take care of the ball, while the Jayhawks seemed to score when and how they wanted.
WVU’s players diagnosed their woes as a lack of energy, partly due to the short recovery time.
“When you come out with…a lack of energy, they’re going to make you pay, for sure,” said WVU guard Erik Stevenson.
For Bob Huggins, that fatigue was apparent during the game.
The quick turnaround was also a concern for the coach before it started, as he noticed a switch in his team’s focus during preparations for Kansas.
“Yesterday, we were pretty good. Today, we were horrible,” Huggins said. “We just had no enthusiasm, no fire to us whatsoever.”
Huggins said that his team did few “strenuous things” during practices in the lead-up to the conference tournament. Instead, they focused on walkthroughs and tried to study their upcoming opponents in order to help his team recover after a difficult end to the conference season.
Now, Huggins’ squad has at least a week until it next hits the court. Stevenson said the players will focus on resting physically and mentally with their eyes on the NCAA Tournament.
Huggins wants the team to do that, plus one more thing.
“I would hope that next week…or whenever it is that we get into the NCAA Tournament, that we forget about this,” Huggins said. “This wasn’t the team that I had all year. We came out with absolutely no enthusiasm, no pep in our step. It was a bad game….We just didn’t play.”