Mountaineers Will Stay Focused, Won't Repeat Mistakes of 2016

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Shortly after finding out they will play Bucknell in the first round of the NCAA tournament, West Virginia players and head coach Bob Huggins dove into their plans for preparation.

Bob Huggins didn't exactly mince words when asked about West Virginia's preparation leading up to last year's 70-56 upset loss to No.14 seeded Stephen F. Austin.

"We had no enthusiasm." recalled Huggins. "We were kind of just out there. We were horrible. We had no effort, no enthusiasm and we acted like we didn't want to be there. I don't think I have ever had a team that was that bad in practice as consistently as we were that week. Most people are excited about playing in the NCAA tournament."

Now, one year later, the Mountaineers find themselves in a similar position - in an opening round game that they can and should win if they come prepared to play, and Huggins has developed a solid plan to make sure that 2016's mistake doesn't repeat itself again.

"I told them I'm gonna throw their (expletive) out if they're that way this time," said Huggins. "There's no sense wasting time in practice if you're not going to practice."

Huggins is a man who has built his reputation on brutal honesty and doing what he says he going to do, so there's little reason to think he won't follow through on the promise. There's also little reason to think he hasn't shared his intentions with his players as well, and from listening to them speak it sounds as if they got the message loud and clear.

"I don't think we bounced back from our loss to Kansas (in last year's Big 12 tournament championship) like we should have," remembered senior power forward Nathan Adrian. "We were a little lackadaisical. The same thing happened this year so we have to learn from our mistakes last year and not let it happen again.

"I think we have to come in and play focused. We can't look past our opponent, which honestly we did last year. We have to play as hard as we can. I have no other choice. If I lose then I'm done so I, maybe more so than other guys, have to step up and play better."

Jevon Carter, who is West Virginia's best defender and has emerged as its biggest scoring threat, seemed to echo that sentiment and says the Mountaineers' won't leave anything on the line in the next few days.

"It's going to take everybody," said Carter. "We have to go out there and give it our all. It could very easily be my last game playing with Nate and the other seniors and I'm just not looking forward to that being a short route."

According to Daxter Miles, getting motivated is up to every player individually, but the junior guard says it starts with cutting out any distractions leading up to Thursday's contest.

"We have got to be really tuned in mentally," said Miles. "We can't let outside distractions get to us. We need to focus. I think (staying focused) just depends on who you are. I'm different than Nate and Nate is different than Jevon, it just depends on who you are but I know we just have to limit outside distractions."


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