Basketball, like every other sport, at it's base is supposed to be fun. But I rarely see any of the Mountaineers having fun on this team. Yes, everyone has fun when they win. I'm talking about in the heat of the moment. When nothing is decided and your next shot could be the difference in the game.
My best description of this team's emotional state would be, uptight. I personally don't think we lack the athleticism to compete at the highest level. But I do think this team lacks the mental makeup. It has nothing to do with smarts, and everything to do with confidence. And I'm not really pointing the finger at coach Huggins.
Sure he could pat a few more backs and kick a few less butts. But I can't imagine anyone on this team showed up for the first day of practice and was shocked by his language and tough-nosed style. Motivation has to come from somewhere besides the coach. Some teams just need the coach to get out of the way. While others need a rallying point. This team is the latter.
One of the greatest coaching moves of the past five years was Mark Richt telling his team to go out and get a celebration penalty after their first touchdown against Florida in 2007. Whether it affected the outcome of the game or not isn't really known. But the Bulldogs certainly played loose and inspired the rest of the game. More simply put, they had fun. The basketball equivalent would be a celebration at center court. That or one of the guys needs to walk over and smack Buzz Williams on his bald head a la Benny Hill.
The team is on the outside looking in for a tournament birth, and I think we can all agree that this team is caught in quicksand on the court. But a tournament birth isn't out of the question even after the last eight games. They have two choices. Stay the course of being uptight and worrying about every step they take, or just go out and have fun. It's a sold out game, so everyone in attendance needs to do their part as well. Make it a party and a blueprint to get back on the inside of that bubble.