WVU basketball: Influx of fouls reason for blown leads

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 17: Lagerald Vick
LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 17: Lagerald Vick /

The WVU basketball has gained a reputation for blowing leads this season. Unfortunately, it’s well earned because at least seven of the Mountaineers’s eight losses looked to be wins at one point.

But even in the WVU basketball team’s victories, many fouls are called. That just happens to be the nature of play for a Bob Huggins-coached team. However, Huggins’ gameplan doesn’t always account for extended stoppages in play.

The time taken out of a game to blow the whistle, call the foul and wait for an inbounds pass disrupts the flow immensely. Neither team is really anticipating a whistle, so it’s hard to react when an infraction is called.

In the WVU basketball team’s recent win against Baylor, a combined 46 fouls were called on both the Mountaineers and Bears. They attempted 50 free throws. Those take time also. To line up, wait for a shot and go after a rebound are components of a game that offenses and defenses can’t really control.

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This season, West Virginia is committing 21.3 fouls per game. It’s not the most in the country, but it certainly is the most among highly-ranked teams. According to NCAA.com, Stephen F. Austin is committing the most in the country at 22.7 per game.

Also taking time out of the flow of the game is foul shots. West Virginia has attempted 560 free throws this season, according to WVUsports.com, while opponents are shooting 668. These are all little moments that add up to cause the WVU basketball team to lose focus.

Even after the win against Baylor, Huggins recognized the comeback by the Bears. He offered his reasoning for the rally because “There were a lot of stoppages in play which doesn’t help anything,” he told reporters.

Huggins has been hard on the officials throughout his entire career. But recently his temper reached a boiling point when it became obvious that his team wasn’t getting the same calls as Kansas. Again, it was the whistles that set the tone rather than the players.

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West Virginia has made many mistakes on its own this season, but the fact remains that it is hard to plan for certain things when the officials are the ones who are in control.