West Virginia's Josh Eilert and Teyvon Myers Know Importance of Prep for NCAA Opener

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - West Virginia's men's basketball team had terrible practices between its final two postseason games last year. Did the pain of an ugly upset loss to close out the 2015-16 campaign sink in with this year's team?

Teyvon Myers, for one, would answer with a resounding yes. Without being prompted, he mentioned that the practices between the Big 12 final loss to Kansas and the first day NCAA exit at the hands of Stephen F. Austin were the worst of the year, and that they contributed directly to that.

"If I remember right, we had several bad practices in a row," the normally upbeat Myers said after the loss to Iowa State. "I was a junior so I didn't say much. But I'm a senior now, and I'm not going to let that happen again. No way."

Myers wasn't guaranteeing a win over Bucknell, but he's determined that WVU will pay attention in these intervening days before the opening game on Thursday. It will prepare hard. Seeing Myers in this mood, with mixed sadness and determination, was something of an eye-opener, and perhaps it's just that sort of shock to the system that this West Virginia team needs.

Count acting assistant coach Josh Eilert among those who could take the tiniest bit of solace in knowing that at least one of his players was thinking about that before even being reminded of it. A former player, Eilert knows the importance of letting go of a loss while also learning the lessons it can teach. That's a balancing act that can be difficult, but one that he has been tuned into as a member of the Mountaineer staff.

"I hope so," Eilert said of the hopes that the importance of the practice prep had sunk in. "We have five seniors, and I hope that message gets across and they embrace that. It's a new postseason and we have to make the most of it. That was my message to our guys -- you can't carry it with you. Tomorrow is a new day. We can't carry that into your practice. But last year we carried that into our first couple of practices. Look back at last year at how we finished our season and we were in the same position."

West Virginia is also dealing with the distraction of a quickly adjusted travel schedule, which allowed it to get to Buffalo before the onslaught of Winter Storm Stella, which could deposit up to a foot of snow in Western New York. On the face of it, that should not be a major issue, but it does add another day away from home and another day out of familiar beds and surroundings - something that head coach Bob Huggins believes is a hidden, yet demonstrable, negative. 

Still, those sorts of distractions are ancillary to the main issue -- fixing the problems that led to generally mediocre play at the Big 12 Championship. Eilert doesn't think that the emphasis the team placed on winning the title was bad, or that the team had any self-created pressure that caused problems.

"I can't really point at any one thing," he said of trying to find an over-arching theme to WVU's performances. "[Friday] we couldn't shoot the ball in the ocean. [Saturday] I'm not sure there is a team all season that got more shots than us. We live on getting more shots, whether its by offensive rebounds or turnovers. We got out of character with what we do."

Getting that back is the task at hand as WVU goes through its final two days of preparation in Buffalo, and perhaps the change of venue, and a bit of isolation, will help. 

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