Losing was the Best Thing that Could’ve Happened to the Mountaineers

Sure, it sucks that West Virginia dropped a very winnable game at Kansas State; the Mountaineers fell to 3-2 in the Big 12 Conference, missed an opportunity to go to move into the Top 10 in the Associated Press/Coaches Polls and into the Top 5 in the NET Rankings (which is used to determine seeding for the NCAA Tournament), but this might just be exactly what the team needed at this point in the year.

At 14-2 and 3-1 in the Big 12 before the game, with the top RPI in the country and the toughest strength of schedule in the nation, the young Mountaineers were almost certainly starting to buy into their own hype.

This, of course, is dangerous.  There is a thin line between self-confidence and arrogance, and it’s entirely possible that several players on the team thought they could show up in Manhattan and win without perhaps giving their best effort.  I for one thought the game would be a “walk in the park”, a “light workout”, and obviously I started to see the Mountaineers as a team incapable of being beaten by a team with a losing record and an 0-4 record in conference play.


On paper, the game should have been a blowout.  West Virginia’s size and depth should have been far too much for a Wildcats’ team that lacks a strong interior player and has very little talent off the bench.

Head Coach Bob Huggins seems to think that the team didn’t mentally prepare for the game properly and was perhaps overlooking an in-conference foe on the road.  Following the game, Huggins said, “We weren’t ready.  We weren’t ready in practice.  It’s so much a mental game and Kansas State was desperate to win.  We told our guys that.  All the media talk around here was they were desperate and 0-4 in the conference, and our guys weren’t desperate to win and Kansas State just took it to us at the start.”


In other words, the Mountaineers expected to win the game game and was not desperate.  Expecting to win a game on the road in the Big 12 Conference, regardless of the opponent, is obviously not a tremendous mindset for a team.

One thing is for sure, Bob Huggins will not allow his team to overlook another opponent this season, and the loss at Kansas State will be a really outstanding learning experience for his talented Mountaineers.  Losing this game, although painful in the moment, comes at a much better time than in March when it could end their season prematurely.