MEC notebook: UC back on track after home win
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston's 77-70 win over Glenville State Monday at Eddie King Gym snapped a three-game losing skid in which coach Dwaine Osborne questioned his team's effort and energy.
That skid started with a loss at Shepherd all the way back on Dec. 8 and included a home nonconference loss to Shaw, a team the Golden Eagles had already beaten on the road. A three-week layoff for winter break then concluded with a loss at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Such a lull in enthusiasm can be tough to explain sometimes with so many contributing factors and a young team, but Osborne gave it a shot Tuesday.
"In that first game against Shepherd, it was an overnight trip and it was snowing and some of our guys had never even seen snow," Osborne said. "They acted more interested in building snowmen and making snow angels than they did in playing a game. Then we got snowed in afterward - it was just a wacko trip.
"Then you come home and play a team we already beat at their place, and you know how kids are, you just don't prepare and do things the way you did before when it was an unknown. Then we come back from break, and practice was decent, but it wasn't great. We just went up [to Wesleyan] and played with absolutely zero emotion.
"Finally we came home afterwards and for 48 hours we got after it really good. But it's not just the players, I've got to be better too."
If UC has indeed turned a corner, it may be in the nick of time.
The Golden Eagles (6-4 overall, 3-3 Mountain East Conference) could be in a position to make a serious move with their next five games against teams all currently in the bottom half of the league standings, starting with a trip to Concord (5-7, 2-4) on Thursday night.
Following that stretch, however, will be consecutive games against the top three in the current standings, starting with a return trip from Shepherd on Jan. 30 and continuing with a road trip to West Liberty and a home date with Wheeling Jesuit.
All of that too far down the road for Osborne to think about right now.
"We can't worry about stringing four together until we've won one, two, and three," Osborne said. "We're trying to go on a bunch of one-game winning streaks."
West Virginia State finally put one in the conference win column with an 82-64 home win over a Wesleyan team that had won six of its last seven.
While the Yellow Jackets (4-5, 1-5) struggled out of the gate, they are showing signs of life having won three of their last four. That turnaround has coincided with the addition of senior guard Bo King, who is averaging 16.8 points since returning four games ago.
Beyond his scoring, King has really taken some of the weight off the shoulders of Anton Hutchins, a fellow senior guard who has averaged 19.8 points, fourth in the MEC thus far.
"When you've got a player like Bo, as dynamic and as much of a scoring threat as he is, it opens it up for everybody," State coach Bryan Poore said. "Now you've got a guy on your team that they've got to account for wherever he is on the court. Just him at times being a decoy and running the floor and dragging a defender with him opens it up for everybody and makes the game easier.
"I look forward to the next couple of months to see how good they can become, because I think we've just scratched the surface and we've got a shot at being pretty good by the end of the season."
The Jackets will travel to Virginia-Wise (6-4, 3-3) on Thursday.
The premier matchup of the entire conference slate may just happen on Thursday night, when undefeated West Liberty (10-0, 6-0) invades Shepherd (10-2, 5-1) in a game pitting the league's top two teams.
The Hilltoppers showed a bit of vulnerability Saturday in a close 97-92 home win over Concord, but they've since regained their edge with a 116-79 drubbing of Virginia-Wise Monday.
Shepherd had an eight-game winning streak snapped at Notre Dame College on Saturday in an 82-77 loss but also recovered with a 93-72 victory Monday at Urbana.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.