The days of the men’s basketball team receiving votes in the major polls seem like ages ago.
Following a 10-2 start, the Red Storm have gone 2-8 in conference play, with many searching for answers as the team gets deeper into conference play.
The question isn’t whether things have gone bad. It’s more a question of why.
And nobody has an answer.
“I can’t pinpoint it,” said junior forward Justin Burrell. “I have no idea what it is. We sat in the locker room for ten minutes after this game and tried to talk about, ‘What is it that we can’t do?'”
Apparently they can’t score. The Red Storm sit at the bottom of the conference in most offensive categories, including shooting percentage, three point percentage and points per game. They’ve topped 70 points just twice in conference play.
Why they can’t score is an even harder question to answer. Five players have averaged at least 10 points per game once in their college careers, including junior transfer guard Dwight Hardy, who is averaging double digits this year.
Even people outside the program are surprised at the Red Storm’s lack of success.
“They have a lot of talent,” said West Virginia forward Da’Sean Butler, who scored 33 points against St. John’s on Saturday. “They work hard. They’re scrappy. They’ve got a good coach.
“When they lost the first three, I was kind of surprised, but when I saw them bounce back and get the next two I kind of thought ‘Here they come.’ They’re that good of a team.”
But Butler struggled to find a reason for the team’s struggles.
“It’s just a matter of certain times the ball doesn’t bounce in their favor,” he shrugged.
Whatever the reason, neither the players nor the coaches are spending time feeling sorry for themselves.
“We’ve got to just fight and keep playing,” said Head Coach Norm Roberts. “There’s nothing else you can do. No one’s going to give you a game. There are no easy games in this league, no matter where you play, so you have to battle it out. Our guys knew that. They knew that when they came to play in this league. They knew it’s a battle every single night.”
With the conference season more than half over, it will be hard to turn things around. But it won’t be impossible. Nobody in the program has given up.
“I think we can still be very good,” said Roberts. “There’s still a lot of time to be good. We just have to focus on the next game at hand and try to get better.”
One of his stars still has faith.”There’s definitely still time to turn it up,” said senior forward Anthony Mason Jr.
“In the Big East, anybody can lose to anybody. So definitely, in the Big East, we’ve got time. It’s not like we’ve got two games left.”