The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Old Man winter has put a screeching halt to all sports activities in Harrison County. With over a week long hiatus from practices and games, area teams are forced to regroup as they prepare for the back half of their seasons. There is no doubt that this layoff will affect teams and the ones that adjust the best will be the least penalized.
As contests are postponed and rescheduled, the amount of practice days diminishes, which leaves teams that are senior laden or that possess more experienced players with a distinct advantage. Also, teams with deeper benches will prosper because their players will be fresher. Travel, multi game weeks, and back-to-back games are issues that will impact each and every team. Momentum will be affected with such a lengthy break and it’s a concern for those coaches that had it prior to being put on ice.
On the girls’ side, Lincoln has darted out to an impressive unblemished start. A 13-0 record is an accomplishment in itself, but when you consider the strength of schedule involved, it becomes even more of an eye opener. The last three wins have come against Grafton, Bluefield, and Fairmont Senior (three of the top teams in class AA). The Cougars are one of those teams that did not want a lull in the action. However, Head Coach Rob Hawkins has an experienced group that has played in their fair share of big games and he won’t allow a lack of focus to occur.
On the boys’ side, Bridgeport is off to a 7-0 start that includes four consecutive conference wins. Veteran mentor Mike Kobey is operating with a senior driven lineup that has a pair of lengthy layoffs prior to this, so they should be a little more comfortable with this type of scenerio.
The average fan will also be forced to deal with a dilemma. They will have to choose which match-ups they will attend. There will be some hard choices made because quite frankly you just can’t see them all. Keep in mind that February is already a short month and by shoveling additional games into it, the postseason will be upon us soon.
In Morgantown, the Mountaineers passed their most recent test with a hard fought win over Texas Tech this past Saturday. The Eers weren’t just battling the Red Raiders, they had a bigger opponent to deal with, their first losing streak of the season. Sure, it was only two games, but we all know how quickly it can move to 3, 4, or even 5 games, especially in the highly competitive Big 12 conference.
The loss to Oklahoma on the road was understandable but the one to Texas was a head scratcher. WVU was expected to upend the Longhorns in Morgantown. The Coliseum is a safe haven for this group and Texas was battling the injury bug to boot. It was a lackluster performance that drew sharp criticism from Head Coach Bob Huggins. His message was received and the focus and proper attitude returned to his squad. It’s a good thing as the Mountaineers needed all that they had to pull out the tough road win that also freed them from the chains of that losing streak.
Once again Huggins proved why he is one of the very best in the business. His ability to keep a firm pulse on his program and to motivate his players is unmatched in college hoops today!
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!