Posted by Tony Caridi on Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Fingernail length has never been shorter in state history. Nail-biting is just one of the spoils of winning seven consecutive post-season games and advancing to the Final Four.
Ah, the Final Four. It’s the biggest of the big. Huge. Enormous. Prodigious. It is so stinking big they have to play the game on a football field. By the time everyone is in their seats on Saturday night, the Mountaineers will be playing in front of a crowd larger than any crowd that’s ever seen a West Virginia football team play a game in Morgantown.
The anticipation is off the chart.
The stakes are higher than high.
Massive. Gi-gunda. Gi-normous. Gi (you fill in the blank).
The Final Four transcends it all. Right?
Well not in my opinion. The truth is that the Final Four is at least one and maybe two basketball games. That’s all, nothing more and nothing less. The team that best understands that concept is the team that will walk off the court in Indianapolis late Monday night holding the national championship trophy and hearing the sounds of One Shining Moment.
The teams that get caught up in the circus atmosphere of this spectacle will be eliminated. The team that has the mental capacity to focus and compartmentalize the distractions will win.
The 1988 West Virginia football team played for the national championship against Notre Dame. Coach Don Nehlen to this day laments over how he handled the distractions. He’s often told me if he had to do it over, he would have done it much differently. Despite Major Harris’ injury, the Mountaineers just were not the same team they had been all season. They got caught up in the “bigness” of the game and didn’t realize that the only thing that really mattered was the game.
In 1992, Bob Huggins made his first Final Four appearance. He learned invaluable lessons that he’s been waiting 18 years to share. He’ll tell his team what the Final Four really is. It’s basketball’s version of the Garden of Eden; absolutely beautiful but loaded with focus-sucking temptation.
||West Virginia had its Final Four media day at the WVU Coliseum Tuesday afternoon.
WVU Sports Communications photo
Here’s the key to winning a national championship for the Mountaineers. They must adopt a WWHIS philosophy.
Yes, WWHIS. You know what that is right?
Say it’s the middle of July and the Mountaineers are playing pickup games inside fabled Stansbury Hall (aka Mountaineer Field House)
No band, no media, no refs … the fellas are just playing ball. Winner stays on the court. In walks Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, Nolan Smith and the rest of the Duke Blue Devils looking for a game. Shirts against skins. No Bob Huggins. No Coach K.
Who do you like to win now?
That’s all it is - it’s just a game, nothing more and nothing less. Their five against our five.
WWHIS. Five letters that tell you all you need to know about winning a national championship.