West Virginia isn’t taking the fact they’re playing college basketball games for granted.
With COVID-19 concerns pausing team activities and canceling or postponing games across the college basketball landscape, the Mountaineers have already played nine basketball games.
They haven’t been immune to cancelations after the Robert Morris game was nixed earlier this year due to virus protocols and replaced with North Texas, but the Mountaineers have certainly been more fortunate than most when it comes to scheduled games.
Several of those have been added to the schedule on the fly, such as the Jimmy V Classic match up with No. 1 Gonzaga and the game against Richmond, as well as multiple games in the Crossover Classic tournament in South Dakota. But that is the way of the world during this pandemic and a lot of the credit on the West Virginia side of things can go to Director of Basketball Operations Josh Eilert.
“I think Josh deserves a world of credit. He tracked this deal like the Richmond game. He was on top of everybody that was going to need a game if something fell through,” head coach Bob Huggins said.
West Virginia won’t need any extra motivation considering that each game on the schedule is one that they felt they might not have gotten only a few short weeks ago.
“I would hope that all the work they’ve put into this point they’d be excited about playing anybody. We ought to feel fortunate that we’re playing anybody,” Huggins said.
The Mountaineers coaches and players also have played a role in making sure that things have gone off without any problems, too. That’s because they had heeded the advice of the medical staff and done their part in having discipline with what has been asked of them with the guidelines.
That means sticking amongst themselves and giving up some of the things that college students typically do in order to make sure that they can be on the court playing basketball.
“I think our guys have done a really good job of isolating their selves with themselves,” Huggins said. “It comes down to doing the right thing and quite honestly sometimes that’s not good enough. But it gives you a heck of a better chance.”
It’s something that hasn’t been lost on the players either, who are relishing in the opportunity to play actual basketball games as opposed to practicing against one another. Even more so when you see that games in all major sports are being canceled due to concerns over the virus.
That’s even true despite some of the issues with no fans in the stands and players being forced to create their own energy at times.
It’s a different landscape, but it’s one the players have had to adjust to in 2020. The new normal and it’s one that the Mountaineers certainly appreciate taking part in.
That’s in large part because this team has goals and believes it has a chance to end the season in a special place if it can get to that point.
“Playing games is something that I love to do. You can’t take it for granted,” sophomore guard Miles McBride said.
“We’re trying to figure out how to do it day-by-day. We’re just trying to make the most of it but fortunate to get to play,” junior guard Sean McNeil added.