Browne, Staten ready to return for tournament

When a senior finds out that they suffered an injury late in the season, there's usual a quick, scary thought that goes through their mind.

There's always that chance that this might be the end of the line - as your college career winds down and the number of games get smaller and smaller, there's always that chance that they might not be back in time to play with their teammates for their school again.

That's the type of thought that Juwan Staten and Gary Browne had at some point during the last few weeks as West Virginia's two senior guards went down with leg injuries and missed the Mountaineers' four games leading up to the NCAA tournament.

"At first, the news was kind of devastating because this is exactly what you want to come back to school for," Staten said. "But we both have faith in God and talking with my parents a lot and just keeping the faith, just knowing that he wouldn't have brought us this far to forsake us."

The duo will share the Mountaineer backcourt for the first time since WVU beat Texas at the Coliseum on Feb. 24 when West Virginia kicks off what it hopes will be a deep NCAA tournament run Friday against Buffalo.

Browne will be the lone player on the West Virginia roster who will not be making his first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, and said the fact that it will be the first time to the Big Dance for Staten after such a great collegiate career might be the thing that makes him the happiest about the two of them returning healthy enough to play in the Round of 64.

"We knew that we worked so hard this summer, to end up like that, it was not going to happen," Browne said. "We did our best day-by-day working with our trainers and getting better until this day.

"I mean, it's his first time playing (in the NCAA tournament) and it's going to be my second time. It's our senior year, we're at his place ... You couldn't ask for anything better than that."

Tournament a homecoming for several Mountaineers

Staten is one of three players on the West Virginia roster who will be getting to return to play in their home state this weekend in the NCAA tournament.

Staten, a Dayton, Ohio, native, as well as Cincinnati native Devin Williams and Columbus' own Elijah Macon will be playing in front of a home crowd and are expected to have plenty of family members in attendance Friday when the Mountaineers take on Buffalo.

"It's a pretty special feeling," Staten said. "Family, people that haven't got to see you play since you were a little kid (will get to watch). And now at the end of your career, end of your collegiate career they get to see you again. That's the biggest feeling. I have a lot of people - my grandmother, she doesn't really travel at all. But she's going to be here to watch me play. And that's something that's special to me. I just want to take advantage of it.

"I actually feel kind of bad because I had to tell some people they had to buy their own tickets. But it's just a great feeling. And I've definitely been feeling the love from everybody that I know in Ohio.”

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