Connect with us


Bock: West Virginia’s Real Test to Not Repeat Last Season Begins Now



WVSN photo by Kelsie LeRose

It seems like some West Virginia fans are hesitant to fully buy in to this season’s surprise so far. And understandably so.

At this point, last season Bob Huggins had his group sitting at 11-1 heading into Big 12 play. The team limped into Big 12 play after playing many mid and low-majors close. The Mountaineers proceeded to finish the year 5-16 with no postseason tournament to play.

“I never want to think about last year again,” Huggins said earlier this month.

Last season was miserable for everyone involved, which is why the coaching staff embraced the transfer portal and brought in one of the best classes in the entire country. Erik Stevenson, Emmitt Matthews, Tre Mitchell and Joe Toussaint all have surfaced as the most valuable players on WVU. This group has a different energy from last season and everyone has something to prove.

Fast-forward to the present day and West Virginia sits in a familiar spot at 10-2 with this new group. Saturday against Kansas State is the first step to getting to that long-term goal.

Once again, the Big 12 Conference is deep and features multiple National Championship contenders. Kansas looks to repeat, while Texas and Baylor hang around the top-15 mark. The rest of the conference is the wild west looking for another contender to emerge. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi included all 10 teams in his latest bracketology update with nine in the field and Oklahoma State as “First Four Out.” There’s no cakewalk in the Big 12.

West Virginia has come out of the non-conference slate as one of the biggest surprises in the conference, if not the country. WVU has three quality wins over Pitt (81-59), Florida (84-55) and UAB (81-70). The Mountaineers’ two losses came to now-No. 1 Purdue (80-68) and Xavier (84-74). The computers have shown WVU lots of love because of their win margins in their quality wins. Only one of West Virginia’s quality games was played in Morgantown, against UAB.

This group has been in the gym and has shown a committed drive to win. Huggins and his players have stayed consistent about keeping their work ethic in their minds each day. The team talks about their drive and criticizes last year’s group for the lack of.

“It’s a big change of people being in the gym, working out, attitudes on the court,” WVU G Kedrian Johnson said in the preseason.

It’s time to prove the difference between last year’s group and this group.

Big 12 play will be the true test to see if West Virginia really did fix last season. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, I would be shocked to see West Virginia struggle like they did last season in conference play.

Get WVSN in your mailbox!

Enter your email address to subscribe to WVSN and receive notifications of new posts by email.