The Mountaineers have always been the State of West Virginia’s team. We call our band the Pride of West Virginia. This isn’t North Carolina or Florida or Georgia. This isn’t even the state of Pennsylvania. Those states can pick their teams to root for, college and professional. Here in West Virginia, the Mountaineers are the option. And for basketball, the head coach is a hometown hero.
But coming on the heels of four losses in five games, one must stop to ask themselves is the pressure of being the state’s only team ever too much? We’re talking about student athletes, late teens and early twenties, who carry the weight of an entire state fanbase on their shoulders. Win and they love you. Lose and you’re not much to them.
Does it ever get to these players? Could the pressure play a role in the series of losses over the last five games? Maybe.
Coach Bob Huggins. Look up Mountaineer basketball and he’s right there with Hot Rod Hunley and Jerry West. He’s a West Virginia hero. Seventh most winningest coach currently coaching. Coach Huggins will likely see his place in the Hall of Fame in the near future. It’s been rumored that he will be named to the Hall of Fame this year.
Imagine you’re a student athlete on this team for a second and your coach is in the limelight for his career. The pressure is on you to perform so that your coach receives the accolades he deserves. That’s pressure.
Imagine you’re from out of state, wearing the Old Gold and Blue, and you’re young so you haven’t really gotten to understand the love the State of West Virginia has for you. That’s pressure.
Yes with any fanbase, they love you when you’re up. And they hate you when you’re down. With West Virginia fans, they (we) want so badly to prove we are worthy of keeping up with the big teams, of not being little old West Virginia. That’s pressure on these young kids. By no means is this an excuse for losing, playing poorly or not showing up. What it is is an attempt to understand what these student athletes may be feeling as they try to leave it all on the court for Mountaineer Nation.
Maybe, just maybe, this pressure they may be feeling, pressure to win for an entire state, pressure to get their coach to the Hall of Fame, is just a lot at the moment. This team has the potential to end the regular season, the last ten games, with a strong record going into the wild month of March. Shake off the pressure they may be feeling and know this state wants nothing more than the team, and the coach, to succeed this season. Whatever is the reasoning behind this string of losses, maybe knowing that the fans understand a little bit of the pressure the players may feel will help this team toward its next victory.
Let’s bring on the Mountaineers!