STILLWATER, Okla. - As West Virginia's basketball season plods along, the Mountaineers teetering around the .500 mark and making discussions of an NIT bubble almost embarrassingly relevant, it's still difficult at times to quite understand why.
Bob Huggins has his theories, others theirs.
Saturday's 80-66 meltdown loss to Oklahoma State here perhaps illuminated several of those theories. But it settled none of them.
Just for kicks, let's delve into three of them today. We won't settle anything, of course, but we can at least air them out to the extent that 25 or so column inches will allow.
First - since it is, after all, his basketball team - we'll look at what has repeatedly become a Huggins theme this winter. Specifically, this isn't a very smart basketball team.
"We have a timeout and we're going to run a set against a zone. And I can't get guys on the right side of the floor after a timeout,'' Huggins said. "I think, if you look historically at my teams, we've scored at an extremely high rate after timeouts. I can't get these guys on the right side of the floor.
"They know the stuff. It's not that they don't know the stuff. I don't know what goes through their heads.''
Huggins isn't accusing his players of being dumb, mind you. That's the mystifying part. For the most part these are smart kids. OK, so they might not be Joe Herber-smart, but they aren't dumb jocks.
Huggins' theory seems to be that they simply don't collectively take the game as seriously as he would like, thus giving the appearance of a low basketball IQ when the same mistakes happen again and again.
"I don't know,'' Huggins said of how to correct the attention and focus issues. "I've never had guys like this.''
Of course, while attention to detail is certainly a pertinent point, so too is your theory. And by your theory I mean what seems to be the consensus of most fans: This just isn't a very talented team.
That's got to be a factor. Huggins spent much of the preseason touting the depth and versatility this team has, what with multiple experienced point guards (Juwan Staten, Jabarie Hinds, Gary Browne), a four- or five-man rotation of bigs (Deniz Kilicli, Aaric Murray, Dominique Rutledge, Kevin Noreen and untested Volodymyr Gerun) and enough shooters (freshmen Terry Henderson and Eron Harris, Matt Humphrey, Aaron Brown) that someone could usually be counted on to have a hot hand.
And he's right. This team is well rounded as far as having all of the elements.
"They don't have better players than us,'' Harris said of Oklahoma State. "We're just not focused on every aspect of the game, whether it's plays or defense or what this player does or what that one does.''
Well, the second part of Harris' assertion is probably right. That's what Huggins has been saying all along. The first part? Not so much.