Saturday evening the Mountaineers will play in their most important basketball game thus far for the season. A third trip to the Big 12 tournament championship game, taking on the Kansas Jayhawks in an arguably home atmosphere for the Jayhawks. In the eyes of most, the odds are against the Mountaineers. The difference this year is that the Mountaineers may just want that banner a little more than the other teams in the conference.
Needless to say, this is going to be quite the game. The Mountaineers are in their third tournament championship game and as the saying goes, fans around the country hope the third time is the charm. Following the victory over Texas Tech, there was a strong sense of desire to move on to Saturday evening’s game.
The desire from this team to compete for the tournament title is pulsating. Daxter Miles, Jr. was asked what he expects of the game. His answer? Nothing short of simple and accurate, “Gonna be one hell of a game,” he replied.
One hell of a game is correct, Dax, it’s going to be a hell of a game. Right now, the biggest difference in the mentality of the team going into this as opposed to other big games, is the mentality they have. These players seem to have engaged a Huggins-esque grit after the Red Raiders victory, knowing this is their chance to leave it all on the court and take home what they deserve and so want.
The Mountaineers of sports and teams past have been loaded with players whose grit and heart make the eyes of fans glisten with pride. Think of Owen Schmitt and that famed Fiesta Bowl speech. Da’Sean Butler and the entire 2010 Final Four team. They embodied the spirit of being a Mountaineer and giving it all to their team.
Senior point guard Jevon Carter is helping his fellow senior teammate Miles in that push forward, and it’s evident by Carter’s thoughts on playing Saturday. ““We want to go out with a bang. It’s our last year,” Carter said. “If we win (Saturday) we can hang a banner. It’s everything we ever dreamed of.”
Saturday’s game consists of the same 40 minutes of game tine these players have played in thousands of times. The difference this time is that it is the last time Carter and Miles will dress in the Sprint Center and take on this task they’ve already attempted twice. It’s likely they will play their hearts out and leave it all on the court.
Coach Huggins has preached for years that the team that wants it more is going to be the team that goes home winners. Mountaineer fans have seen this in teams past, that hunger to do more than what it takes to win. That hunger is seen in Carter when asked what he will tell the team about playing versus Kansas Saturday evening. His response is telling of the desire to win.
“It’s win or go home,” the point guard said. “It’s my last year, I can’t be on the court saying “My bad, my bad. We’ll get them next year.” We’ve got to go out and just win it.”
Just win it. Those are the words the senior will tell his teammates. Just win it. Play your hearts out for 40 minutes and bring that banner back to Morgantown. Magic happens in March and these Mountaineers want nothing more than some of that magic to happen Saturday in the Sprint Center.