Former Mountaineers React to WVU Late Season Collapse
West Virginia has hit a brick wall. They didn't just hit a little bump in the road or came back down to earth a little bit, they have hit a solid 20-foot red brick wall. To start the season, West Virginia got off to an 11-1 start with key wins over Wichita State and then No. 2 Ohio State. Since, the Mountaineers are 8-8 and have slipped to No. 20 in the country and are a projected No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Several things attribute to the late season collapse including poor free throw shooting, defensive rotations, bad shot selections, and rebounding. Yes, rebounding. In their losses, the Mountaineers are not as dominant on the boards and, at times, Derek Culver goes missing.
Over the course of the last month or so, some former Mountaineer players took to Twitter to voice their thoughts on the team's struggles.
As John Flowers pointed out this team is young and although some don't see it as an excuse for losses, it has every bit to do with it. There are seven newcomers on the team and only one (Oscar Tshiebwe) was a highly recruited player that was ready for the college game day one. Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman both hail from the junior college ranks and are still adjusting to the speed of the game and playing in front of crowds bigger than 30 people.
What most people forget is that this team won only 15 games a year ago. The expectation coming into the season was that this would be year one of getting West Virginia basketball back on track, not back to the Big 12 championship.
This group exceeded expectations out of the jump and changed everyone's expectations without remembering where this team was a year ago and how those who came back from last year's team (McCabe, Matthews, Culver) are essentially redshirt freshman. Culver played the most, but missed half of the season due to a suspension, while Matthews and McCabe didn't see much floor time until the latter half of the regular season.
One of the reasons they performed better towards the end of last season is there wasn't much film on the freshmen and if you look at the two wins at the tail end of the regular season, they were at home.
There's still plenty of time for West Virginia to salvage the rest of their season and make a run in the NCAA tournament, but if they don't - it was expected. This group is still extremely young and is learning the ups and downs of college basketball.
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