Press Virginia no longer your normal WVU basketball team

By Ryan Decker

Since being rebranded a few years ago, West Virginia University has been home to a different basketball program.

The Press Virginia mantra and style that defines Bob Huggins’ squad now is something unlike any other team in the nation. The Mountaineers don’t just get after teams; they swarm to the ball, poke it away, take it to the other end and more times than not turn those takeaways into points.

WVU’s dominating win over No. 1 Baylor Tuesday night inside a sold out Coliseum was just another example of the turn that program has taken.

Prior to Tuesday, ten times the top-ranked team in the country had come to the Coliseum and only twice had the visiting team not walked away victorious.

After Tuesday night, make that three times in eleven attempts the Mountaineers have knocked off the top team in the land on their home floor, twice in the last two years.

The 89-68 score led to students and other spectators storming the court as soon as the final buzzer went off. However, given the fact that now this is two seasons in a row Press Virginia has downed the number one team in the land, and the confidence he already had in his group before the game, Huggins likely would’ve rather seen everyone go home without stepping an inch onto the court.

“This ought to happen all the time – not storming the court, but we ought to win all the time,” Huggins told ESPN commentator John Sciambi following the victory. “That’s how we look at it in our program. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. (Baylor) is a heck of a team. (Head coach) Scott (Drew) has done a heck of a job, I don’t mean that in any way, derogatory. We’re supposed to beat them at home.”

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Panoramic view of a sold out WVU Coliseum Tuesday night as No. 10 West Virginia cruised to an 89-68 victory over No. 1 Baylor.   Photo by Ryan Decker

Press Virginia isn’t designed to be the underdogs. Jevon Carter, Esa Ahmad, and Nathan Adrian, who scored a career-high 22 points Tuesday, are more like attack dogs.

They and the rest of the Mountaineers get after teams. This isn’t the same WVU program that took its licks in its first two years in the Big 12 Conference. Instead, the Mountaineers are throwing the metaphorical punches, not being on the receiving end.

That’s why the court shouldn’t have been stormed last night.

WVU wasn’t the underdogs Mountaineer fans may have believed them to be.

Press Virginia was the heavy favorite.

West Virginia was supposed to win that game.

Fans shouldn’t storm after they’re expected to win, and WVU is expected to win more games now than they were four years ago. That means fans should expect to win more times now.

They may be favored now more so than in year’s past, but the Mountaineers have been trending in this direction for the last three seasons.

Huggins and company have turned the corner, being ranked each week since November 30, 2015, and only being unranked for a total of five weeks in the since the start of the 2014-2015 campaign.

Tuesday night’s win wasn’t the culmination of the program “turning the corner” so to say, just another example. But to say WVU basketball should be looked at the same way in the 2016-2017 season that it was in the 2012-2013 year is naive.

 

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