Morgantown, West Virginia – I realize that I haven’t won 899 games and in fact I haven’t won a single game as a head coach of a major college basketball program, but I do have questions – primarily focused on personnel decisions – concerning yesterday’s atrocious loss to Oklahoma State.
1. Why was Kedrian Johnson in nearly the entire second half? While Johnson has a bright future with the Mountaineers, he has played less minutes than almost anyone on the team this season. Why, in the most important game of the season, did he play a full 15 minutes?
There’s no doubt that Sean McNeil struggled, shooting 3-13 from the field and 1-8 from three point range, but he’s also perhaps the team’s best scorer. Taking him out and replacing him with a player like Kedrian Johnson – a clear upgrade defensively but a major downgrade on the offensive side of the ball – made the Mountaineers a very easy team to defend.
Why did you choose to play Kedrian Johnson over Sean McNeil in the 2nd half?
2. Where was Emmitt Matthews, Jr.? I have been tremendously critical of Matthews’ play this season, particularly late in very critical games, but he only played 17 minutes the entire game. If he is in fact “the unsung hero of the team” like you’ve said multiple times, why did you decide to not play him in yesterday’s second half?
For all of Matthews’ flaws, he is an exceptionally effective defender and certainly could have done more than the aforementioned Kedrian Johnson.
3. In your postgame ZOOM conference, you mentioned that you “get crucified for telling the truth about your players.” What do you accomplish by “telling the truth about your team” (airing your grievances about your players)?
To begin, Bob, you don’t get crucified for telling the truth. The West Virginia media and fans have allowed you to grumble about your players and teams after losses for years. I just wonder why it’s so important for you to air your grievances about your players publicly? What does this accomplish?
“We can’t guard. We’re terrible. We don’t have a shot-blocker.”
Not only are statements like this completely and totally ineffective, they are also squarely your issues to fix. You are the highest paid public employee in the state for a reason.
“You can’t guard?” It’s your job to fix it, not complain about it. “
“We’re terrible.” You recruited these players and have coached them.
“We don’t have a shot-blocker.” You built this team!
4. Do you regret your decision to not seek out transfer players this past offseason? In the changing landscape of college basketball, players can now essentially transfer from one school to another without penalty and without reason. During this past offseason, you said you felt uncomfortable with this and wouldn’t reach out to transfer players to try to bring them to West Virginia University.
Do you feel that that was the appropriate decision in retrospect? Shouldn’t you do anything and everything within the rules to improve your team? Like, perhaps reaching out to shot-blockers and defenders who don’t allow opponents to walk into the lane for easy layups and dunks?
Is this something that you still feel uncomfortable with, or are you now ready to do whatever it takes within the rules to improve your team? Perhaps a talk with your “close, personal friend” John Calipari is in order.
5. What’s next? How do you get this team ready for the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament? The game of college basketball is obviously filled with highs and lows, and right now, the Mountaineers are at an extreme low.
How do you turn this around? You’re one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history and the perfect person to get this team back on track. Even though yesterday was tremendously disappointing, this is a team that has shown it is capable of beating and hanging right with the best teams in the nation. This is still a team that can make a deep run and even win a national championship.