In Dora Hennen's mathematics class at West Virginia University, I learned that it takes two halves to make a whole.
Unfortunately for members of the Mountaineer basketball team, Mrs. Hennen had retired by the time they arrived on campus.
During the first half of WVU's third round NCAA Tournament game against Kentucky, the Mountaineers were just a little short of brilliant. Especially in the waning minutes, when West Virginia turned a 33-all tie into an eight-point halftime lead.
The Mountaineers not only had that significant advantage, but they also enjoyed all the momentum.
Kentucky's players went to the dressing room with slumped shoulders and that look of West Virginia's going to do it to us again.
Instead, the Mountaineers did it to themselves in the second half. Yes, WVU played hard. The effort was there. But the offensive execution was downright pathetic. You can't score 22 points in the final 20 minutes against a team as big and strong and talented as Kentucky and expect to win.
As a result of the 20-minute meltdown, there will be no Sweet 16 for the Mountaineers this year. That border war game against Ohio State folks around these parts were wanting to see won't take place.
While watching your team end its season with a loss is one of the most demoralizing feelings in sports, we knew sooner or later this was going to happen. West Virginia wasn't championship material.
But thanks to an incredible coaching job by Bob Huggins and a team that never stopped hustling, the Mountaineers won a lot more than they were supposed to win. Remember, West Virginia lost three key starters from last year's Final Four team. Plus, due to a set of cicumstances virtually beyond Huggins' control, it didn't add a single significant player to the roster. That could have been a recipe for disaster. Instead, Chef Huggins took the leftovers and turned them into a delicacy, giving us another season we fondly will remember once the heartbreak of Saturday goes away.
The Mountaineers had several significant wins, beating Notre Dame, Connecticut, Lousiville, Georgetown and Purdue. Heck, even that season-opening 24-point victory over Oakland looks a lot more impressive now than it did at the time.
West Virginia is blessed with a great basketball coach. One whose program needs an infusion of talent to maintain the level of play that has become the recent standard in Morgantown.
Recruiting, the lifeblood of college basketball, will be even more improtant this season. Let's hope the success of the program will allow Huggins to fare well in his visits with potential players.
If that happens, then we get to do this all over again next year and the year after. It's called having a program. One that performs at the highest level of the sport.
I just wish its members had taken Mrs. Hennen's math class.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org