Do you remember how fun the 2006 WVU basketball team was? Pat Beilein, J.D. Collins, Mike Gansey, Johannes Herber, Darris Nichols, Kevin Pittsnogle, Frank Young. Joe Alexander and Alex Ruoff were the 8- and 9-man on the team, so it was obvious there was plenty of talent at the top. All the 3-pointers, back-door cuts and a 1-3-1 press – this team was just so easy to root for. After a 22-10 season, the ‘Eers ran into a Longhorn squad led by future NBA players Lamarcus Aldridge and PJ Tucker.
If you watched last weekend’s North Carolina-Kentucky Elite 8 finish, Luke Maye hit a 2-point shot that was eerily similar to Kenton Paulino’s 3-pointer 11 years earlier. Pittsnogle had just buried a three to tie things at 71. As the Longhorns quickly got the ball up the floor, Paulino was spotting up for the game-winning shot. Coach Beilein couldn’t bring himself to his feet after watching it swish through.
Losing at the buzzer in basketball is equivalent to a walk-off homerun in baseball or a field goal as time expires in football; you’re helpless. There’s no ensuing inbounds pass. There’s no opportunity to take the lead. It’s simply over. And after the Mountaineers stormed back from 12 at the break, making 15 3-pointers. To lose in that fashion was devastating.