MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–For the West Virginia basketball team, success on the court has been evident this season in part from the team’s bond together.
Dating back to the summer, head coach Bob Huggins commented on the unity of his squad and that unity has translated into a 16-3 record on the season with the sky being the limit.
“We’re a tight knit group,” guard Taz Sherman said. “We are a family. It’s not a team. It’s not just a group of guys. This is a family. We all care about each other. We always talk to each other. We’re always around each other. The more you do that you pick up tendencies and what a player wants to do on the court. When you hang out off the court, you don’t even have to workout with them on the court but you just pick up what they want to do. Our team chemistry, the bond is strong.”
The bond between the members of this team is unique.
“Honestly, I haven’t been on a team like the ever and I’ve been to a few different places,” guard Jermaine Haley said. “I couldn’t tell you anybody that had a problem with anybody on the team. We all get along off the court, which translates to on the court. We show up at practice every day and work hard for each other and make each other better. This is the best group of guys I’ve ever got to play with.”
Whether it’s on or off the court, there is no “I” in this team. For example, take a look at when freshman walk-on Spencer Macke gets playing time.
As soon as the student section starts chanting for Macke, the players get fired up. Once he steps on the court, his selfless teammates try and get him the ball. The entire time the bench is cheering for him.
And the moment Macke finds the bucket, his teammates go wild, even carrying the guard off the court after his first basket.
Moments like this happen because there is no greed or envy. Instead WVU focuses on teamwork and picking one another up during hard times, which has led to the Mountaineers success.
“Because nobody is jealous of each other,” Sherman said. “No one is hating on somebody’s success. If someone does bad one game, another person steps up. The person that did bad is not going to be saucy. He’s not going to be like ‘he played good one game, he’s not ready to be in.’ That never happens. We’re a deep team. Everybody isn’t going to be on every game. It could be five people on, the rest is off or it could be eight people on and the rest is off. We just pick up the slack for whoever isn’t playing good. “
Having chemistry this season really differentiates this team from last year’s and the outcome has been a complete turnaround.
“It’s just a different vibe in the locker room,” Haley said. “We show up and work for each other every day. When you have guys like that around you it just makes everything around you feel a lot better, especially when you win games big like we have been. Everything is translating off the court onto the court.”
Each day WVU improves immensely and finds a way to consistently keep that team-first focus; a focus that will pay off in dividends come March.
“As a group, I am going to say we are getting better,” forward Oscar Tshiebwe said. “We play as a team and feed off each other. We’re getting better. We play as a team and we love each other. I think we’re going to keep going forward.”
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS