Posted by Matt Jones
Something is amiss in Morgantown. One day after forward Dan Jennings walked off the bench in the middle of the game, West Virginia's leading scorer, Casey Mitchell, has been suspended indefinitely by coach Bob Huggins for a violation of team rules. There has been no comment from the University as to what rule was violated and as of now, there is no word on whether he will return to the team.
The loss comes as a huge blow for a Mountaineer team that is about to embark on a crucial stretch in which it will play four ranked teams over its next five games. The decision raises questions as to what is happening in Morgantown, after a series of issues that have haunted the team over the past few weeks.
In addition to Jennings' walk-off on Sunday, 2010 West Virginia Player of the Year Noah Cottrill was suspended from the team early in the season and has since withdrawn from the University, for "conduct unbecoming of a Mountaineer. Mitchell himself has also been dogged over the past few weeks with allegations of selfish play , finding himself on the bench during crucial late-game situations due to his inability to execute the offense properly.
The myriad issues raise questions as to whether Huggins has lost the club going into the stretch run of the season. While the team sits 13-5, its recent loss to rival Marshall exposed the disjointed manner in which West Virginia has been playing and its inabilty to operate as a team. Huggins has complained openly about his group's lack of cohesion and the incidents over the past few weeks suggest that the problems mirror the issues currently surrounding the program off the court.
Without Mitchell, the next few games look especially daunting for Huggins' team and the game Wednesday against Louisville may now qualify as something close to a must-win. However, with two of its most talented players now suspended from the team and another openly rebelling against the coach during an actual game, the difficulties may just be getting started for the West Virginia basketball program.