BUCKHANNON – You might as well go ahead and put a tent over the Buckhannon-Upshur basketball program because it has turned into a clown show.
Not internally mind you, but externally.
Head coach Travis Foster has done a fantastic job of getting the program turned around and next year looks to be the break-out year for the second-year coach and his team.
But it’s the external forces that Foster can’t control that need be examined.
What am I talking about?
Take a look at the Big 10 All-Conference Team.
Notice something missing?
Not one Buckhannon-Upshur player is listed.
So despite the fact that the Bucs finished 7-7 in the conference, won two games against Big 10 teams that made the state tournament, the Big 10 coaches, who select the team, decided that not one B-U player was worthy of all-conference honors.
In what fourth dimension of stupidity does that even make sense?
Now you can call me a homer, call this column a homer column or even say I am just being a whiny complainer.
That’s fine, but when I see student-athletes work their tails off at Buckhannon-Upshur and get zero respect, I am going to say something about it.
Every other squad in the 13-team conference had a least one selection on the all-conference team.
Every single one.
Even players on teams that won only four games are represented.
And before we go any further, I am not saying anyone on the all-conference team isn’t worthy to be there and/or should be removed. Not at all.
I am just curious as to what a B-U player needed to do to make the team.
The Bucs certainly had three worthy candidates.
In no particular order, senior guard Dawson Lilly certainly should have been on the team. All he did was lead the Bucs in scoring with 14.3 points per game and earned an invite to the Shenandoah Valley All-Star game that was played last Sunday.
But to be named all-conference? Nope.
Or how about junior center Brayden Cutlip. He averaged 11.9 points per game and hauled down 7.5 rebounds per game including a team-high 19 blocks. All-conference worthy? I guess not.
Sophomore point guard Ryan Hurst? He ran the offense for the Bucs and scored 12.0 points per game while being second on the team in assists (2.6 per game) and steals (1.3 per game). Again…not all-conference worthy.
So not enough Big 10 coaches thought any of those three B-U players were worthy?
Incredible. Simply incredible.
Never mind the West Virginia sports writers got it correct in their voting for the all-state team as Lilly and Hurst were named to the Honorable Mention team.
So B-U has players worthy for all-state consideration but not all-conference?
I’m not the only one scratching his head over this snub as Foster wonders why his team was disrespected as well by the conference coaches.
“You have to be very proud to be a part of a conference where four teams made it to the state tournament,” remarked Foster. “For us to finish in the top part of our conference with a 7-7 record, it meant a lot to our team. But from day one I have taken over the declining program, there has been nothing but disrespect after disrespect to our program. Some has come from within our community, but now after putting together one of the toughest Buckhannon-Upshur schedules we have played in over 15 years, battling and competing with top 10 teams almost every game at different points of the season, beating multiple teams with a lot of heart and youth, being more successful than many within our conference we now hit a point to where the fight for respect leads us outside of the town.
“I’m not one to hold my tongue when it comes to protecting my boys in my program, whether on or off the floor, especially the ones that want to work hard and earn what they get not the ones that think things should be given to them. But I’m very disappointed, frustrated that not a one of my boys deserved a conference award. I really hate it for my seniors.
“Do we feel disrespect from this? Yes. But it has happened since day one of being hired and we’re still fighting for it. You could say it has relit the fire within myself and my boys, we will work even harder this year, and come next December, the disrespect will be faced between the lines of the court, but the fight has already started in our weight room. We will make them respect us with our hard work and play.”
In the two years since Foster took over the reins of the program, it seems like foolishness just follows this team around, and this isn’t just coming from me with my Buckhannon-Upshur glasses on. It’s right there on the floor for everyone to see.
A quick look back at the Lewis County game will confirm that, but there have been other instances.
My favorite this year was when the Buccaneers played at Lincoln back in December.
In the junior varsity game, a B-U defender slapped the backboard and a technical foul was called on him.
In the Lincoln varsity game, a pair of Cougar defenders did the same thing on two different occasions where no technical was called.
There are a million different tales like that over the last two seasons.
I have no idea why that proverbial rain cloud hangs over the Buckhannon-Upshur basketball program.
I guess the best way to rectify it and the disrespect is to win, and win a lot.
Or fix the system on how these teams are selected because it’s clearly broken.
But I will take the first option, because everyone in the conference had better be on notice when the Bucs come to town this upcoming winter.
Times will be a changing.
Either way, I congratulate every single player that made the all-conference team, and continue to wonder why the Buccaneers were shut out.