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Josh Eilert: WVU's record doesn't define what Mountaineers have accomplished this season

Mar. 1—MORGANTOWN — It has gone by in a flash, at least that's the opinion of WVU men's basketball coach Josh Eilert.

Even with all of the setbacks, either on the scoreboard or otherwise, eight months have now passed since Eilert took over the program on an interim basis.

In his eyes, it has only felt like days.

"Every turn you had a different challenge, but you get up each and every day and take the opportunity you've been given and try to make the most of it, " he said. "Everything went really fast this year. The summer didn't really exist this year, because you're trying to do everything you can to put together a really good roster that can compete in this league."

WVU STATS West Virginia (9-19, 4-11 Big 12) opens up its final home stand of the season, beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday against Texas Tech.

Like WVU, the Red Raiders (19-9, 8-7) went through their own coaching change this season, bringing in Grant McCasland from North Texas after the program had been hit with some controversy.

Former coach Mark Adams resigned last March after he had been suspended for racially insensitive comments directed at a player.

The timing is the biggest difference between what Texas Tech and WVU faced this off-season.

McCasland came to the school in March, the traditional time of coaches coming and going.

Former WVU head coach Bob Huggins wasn't forced to resign until last June, following a DUI arrest in Pittsburgh.

Eilert was named the interim on June 24, after the school felt it could not find a suitable permanent replacement at that time.

"From the outside looking in, you can see the challenges, but there's probably tenfold the challenges you don't see from the outside, " Eilert said. "You try and do the best you can to represent the university and the state in the best possible way."

The obstacles piled up one after the other for Eilert in a way no other interim or first-year coach had ever experienced.

And so have the losses.

"I don't think that win-loss record defines myself, my staff or our guys, " Eilert said. "That's my message to them moving forward. You can't let that define you. Let's just take the opportunity we have each and every day and make the most of it."

Those number of opportunities are now dwindling. Just three games remain in the regular season before the start of the Big 12 tournament.

Eilert, himself, pointed out he's now in month nine of the 10-month contract he signed back in June. That contract is set to expire on April 30.

What likely felt like a dream back then filled with endless possibilities hasn't come close to meeting those expectations.

Opinions have filled the room ever since, as Eilert suddenly went from a relative unknown assistant to the head coach. It certainly created a different definition of normal for him.

"What I can hang my hat on every day is doing things the right way and carrying myself the right way, " he said. "I've carried my myself with high integrity and character with what I do.

"The one thing that's always a constant in my life is my family. I've got a great wife who keeps me grounded and keeps things in perspective. I've got a great family to go home to each and every night."

TEXAS TECH at WVU WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday WHERE: WVU Coliseum TV: ESPN2 (Comcast 28, HD 851 ; DirecTV 209 ; DISH 143)

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