ALBRIGHT ON WVU MEN’S BASKETBALL: No one blames you, miss

Photographers’ duties when taking pictures of a sporting event are not confined to game action. Crowd shots or bench photos often aid tone setting of a contest when used in newspapers, on websites or social media outlets. Floor rushing shots after major upsets are some of my favorites.

No celebrations of any kind occurred for the home team after the WVU men were smashed by Texas, 73-53, Saturday evening. Bright smiles at the start of the game slowly melted off the faces of Old Gold and Blue fans in attendance who spent time and money to watch the debacle against the Longhorns.

Misery fully accomplished after Shaka Smart’s boys from the Lone Star State turned a six-point half-time lead into a 15-point cushion in the opening minutes of the second half then never looked back.

There was still one smile however on the face of someone associated with the university, but it wasn’t by choice. An Associated Press photographer caught in still a student who had constructed a giant cutout of new West Virginia University football head coach Neal Brown’s smiling face. She was holding it up in the student section.

Perhaps a sign?

We may never know why this young lady had Coach Brown’s head blown up to epic proportions, but no one would blame her if this was a cry for football season to arrive in Morgantown.

I think a lot of people have turned their heads toward spring grid practice. Fans now realize the NCAA tournament is a pipe dream with the exception of a Big 12 Championship automatic qualifier.

In other words, a miracle.

The Mountaineers are screaming, mostly head coach Bob Huggins, toward their worst finish since joining the Big 12 during the 2012-2013 season. They went 6-12 in conference then and have started 2-9 this year.

Players are trying and failing spectacularly to do things ‘their way.’ Examples include going more than 15 minutes without scoring against Texas Tech, giving up runs like the one against Texas often, then simply falling apart with a lead against Tennessee. Set plays? What are you talking about coach?

Woohoo! They beat Kansas, then were stomped by Baylor the following game.

There is no consistency or accountability it seems, perhaps another reason the young lady selected someone outside the program for her display of school spirit.

Then there is the defense, where anything and everything just has not worked. Press Virginia simply does not exist this season.

Jevon Carter, of the Memphis Grizzlies, and Daxter Miles were solid leaders but they weren’t the only straps holding this team together, were they?

It appears so.

Konate’s saga also robbed WVU of another NBA talent, but perhaps this season was inevitable as new leaders tried to find solid footing. Something no one has had success with through 24 games.

Before angry fans write in and ask how I could talk about the Mountaineers like this, remember this Huggins’ quote given on WVU’s postgame radio show after the loss to the Longhorns where WVU fans filed out of The Coliseum before the conclusion of the game.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Huggins said. “I am embarrassed, totally embarrassed. I don’t know what to say and I don’t know what to do.”

This coming from a coach famous for transforming players into stars like Joe Alexander, Nathan Adrian, Jevon Carter and Desean Butler.

Well, he can be a little more embarrassed after Esa Ahmad and Wesley Harris were dismissed from the team Monday for what the school called “violation of athletic department policies.”

Any chance of the NCAA tournament thoroughly burnt to a crisp after the dismissals of the top rebounder and shot blocker (Ahmad), along with a semi-dependable role player (Harris).

Basketball, the one respite for Mountaineer loyalty after the football team squanders big chance after big chance in November and December, has not been the go-to, feel-good story supporters have come to expect in the past years.

Maybe the next sign should have Brown doing a facepalm.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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