COLUMN: The season no one imagined | WVU Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN – It wasn’t how Taz Sherman imagined it.

There he is, the newest member of the 1,000-point club from West Virginia, sitting there for a post-game interview. No one, however, was there to hand him the match ball. His family, who had come to watch him play TCU and take the leap, didn’t shake his hand, patting his back.

Instead of a wonderful, happy moment where he could recount the highlights of his career, the joy of that 17th point of a game in which he would score 23 as he passed through the basket behind the 3-point line to cap a streak of him scoring 10 straight points to bring WVU within a point at halftime, he felt like he was in a dentist’s chair having his teeth pulled.

“I’m just tired of losing. It’s really hard to do. I just don’t like losing,” Sherman said. “I don’t think anyone in our team has had such a losing streak except for one person. I’ve never lost like that personally and it’s tough.

Ultimately, if you’re the right kind of competitor, you’re playing the game to win. The roar of the crowd is nice, the personal accolades indicate that the hard work you’ve put in over the years has paid off, but we’re social creatures and the teams are like families.

You win together and you lose together, and each loss hurts more than the last. The real problem comes when you become numb, accept it.

The great ones never reach this stage.

“You don’t want to win just for yourself,” Sherman said, obviously having trouble with the whole scene. “You want to win for the team, for the technical staff. You want to win for everyone who supports you, for your family. You have people who are constantly watching you in every game hoping that you will do better… and we let’s not.

“I would like to say that we have to overcome the difficulty, but losing 11 out of 12 games is not a difficulty,” he continued. “There is something wrong and we have to figure it out now. It’s never too little, too late. We still have games left and the Big 12 tournament remains.

Funnily enough, despite his offensive explosion and the milestone reached, his mood couldn’t be better than that of his backcourt partner, Sean McNeil, who went through the game without making a basket…just another of the many reasons they didn’t. couldn’t beat TCU.

“He hasn’t been shooting well in practice lately,” coach Bob Huggins said. “You go through these spells where you don’t shoot very well. I think a lot of things went through his head. We try not to talk to him too much about it.

It had been over two years since McNeil had been shut out in a game.

Sherman came to WVU out of college with a reputation as a scoring machine. He was coming to play for a coach who was on a straight path to the Hall of Fame, to play in a program that had a rich history in the sport, producing the likes of Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley.

It was a team that needed what he was giving them, but the college basketball world just went crazy. COVID-19 shut down play at the time of the tournament two years ago.

Last year, perhaps the best player in the game was traded off the program to Kentucky — Oscar Tshiebwe — and Miles “Deuce” McBride and Derek Culver turned pro after the season.

The expected player base for this year, along with Sherman, McNeil and Jalen Bridges, are gone.

Still, there was a 13-2 start and long-term hopes in the NCAA Tournament were floating in the air when Big 12 play began…but WVU has only won three games since then and now sits at 14- 13.

A place in the tournament is in doubt, a winning season is in jeopardy and despite 40 years of experience as a head coach, Bob Huggins has no answers.

He’s only had one day off since the last loss and is now heading to Iowa State, the only team the Mountaineers beat in their freefall, but they have to play Ames.

It’s not good news, being 1-8 on the road and facing an angry and mad team about their own struggles and looking for revenge in a 7pm game to be shown on ESPNU on Wednesday.

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