The disappointment in Kansas City is gone but not completely forgotten. The same is true of WVU’s shocking performance against Stephen F. Austin in the Lumberjacks’ opening round upset of West Virginia Mountaineers in last year’s NCAAs.
Mountaineer head coach Bob Huggins has often repeated that he didn’t think his team gave enough respect to SFA and didn’t practice well in the days leading up to that game in Brooklyn. Teyvon Myers stressed he wouldn’t let that happen this time around.
“I feel like we had better practices, and now we’re just trying to move forward,” said the senior guard in Wednesday’s interview session in Buffalo.
Myers and his teammates arrived in snowy Western New York on Monday, beating the winter storm into the city. For the past couple of days, they’ve worked out Daemen College in nearby Amherst, preparing for Thursday’s NCAA opening showdown with Bucknell (26-8).
“I feel that everybody understands what we’re playing for now,” explained Myers, who has averaged 6.1 points per game this season as one of WVU’s top reserves. “Each practice is huge. If we lose, this would be the last practice for us seniors. We came out and practiced today. Everybody was locked in to what we needed to do. I feel like we’re going to go out there and have a good one.”
A 13 seed, Bucknell comes into the NCAA Tournament having captured both the Patriot League regular season and tourney titles. The Bison have won six straight games and 14 of their last 16. They faced three power conference opponents in the regular season, defeating Vanderbilt (75-72) in Nashville, while losing at Butler (86-60) and at Wake Forest (94-74). Bucknell and West Virginia haven’t played in 40 years, but they did have two common opponents this season. WVU defeated Manhattan 108-61 while the Bison beat the Jaspers 76-64. West Virginia also downed Mount St. Mary’s 87-59, while Bucknell topped the Mountaineers from Maryland 81-65.
Amidst all the noise of the NCAA Tournament, Myers admits that it can be difficult just to focus on the task at hand.
“It’s hard to block out what people think, be it social media, Twitter, Facebook, whatever they say,” noted the senior guard from Brooklyn. “It’s hard to get them out of your head.”
For WVU, this NCAA Tournament is a chance for redemption, a chance to get the sour taste out of its mouth from last year’s upset loss to Stephen F. Austin and from last week’s second straight loss in the Big 12 title game.
“We are built for this; we’ve worked all year for this,” stated Myers. “We were out there at six in the morning conditioning, and that was to get us ready for days like this. We’ve had tougher days than this, and we can stick it out.”