Sagaba Konate blocked seven shots against Pitt on Dec. 8. The day before the game, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins hinted to the media that Konate’s lingering right knee injury would likely keep him out of the game, because he hadn’t practiced.
Then, Konate ended up having a good day of practice after the media left the premises and Huggins decided to play him the next day.
“Fooled you, didn’t I?” Huggins joked after the game.
After Konate sat out Sunday’s 83-70 loss against Rhode Island, it seems we’ve all been fooled at one point or another.
What we have is an unfortunate tug-of-war with Konate caught in the middle of what his coaches and three previous MRIs — none of which showed any structural damage — are saying and what Konate is hearing from his older brother Bakary Konate, who is also acting as Sagaba’s advisor.
Huggins said during his pre-game radio show before the Rhode Island game that Konate’s advisor is seeking a fourth MRI, in what appears to be a disbelief in what he saw in the first three.
And this is where the opinions begin to fly, especially from those who remember the days where loyalty in college athletics from the athletes who play the games was actually a thing.
Live and die with the old university, that was once the belief held by the fans, as well as the athletes.
Today’s elite college athletes do not think that way, not with the millions of dollars on the line in the professional ranks.
Now, we can sit here and argue on whether or not Sagaba Konate is destined to play in the NBA or not, but that’s not really the point.
The point is, the older brother believes Sagaba is worth millions and is advising him to not take any major chances that would jeopardize his future.
The comment to be made here is not a question of which side you back, but just how much this generation of athletes is taking the power away from schools and coaches.
And the rest of us, including the other teammates, coaches and fans, are the ones who get hurt in the process.
Why should so many be asked to pick up the pieces to appease the few?
The difference here is Konate is dealing with an injury. It’s been documented since last season that he’s had soreness in his knee. He had minor surgery in July, after participating in the NBA Combine two months earlier.
He is not skipping a bowl game to keep from getting hurt; he’s already injured.
Only he knows for sure whether he can play or not.
But, that call does not seem to include all that much input from Huggins, which puts the coach in a very tough position.
“It’s up to him and his brother when he plays and when he doesn’t play,” Huggins said.
He practices sporadically, which puts his teammates in a difficult position.
And for athletes to believe all of that is OK is culture. That is a new way of life that is becoming very dangerous to college athletics and to those who support college athletics.
And that part can be tied to what you see lately with Will Grier’s decision to skip the Camping World Bowl or to the similar decisions from other stars such as Christian McCaffrey that came before Grier’s.
It is the me-before-team way of thinking we are all forced to deal with and it is becoming more and more justified because of money.
I want nothing but the best for Konate. I’m sure Huggins feels the same way.
It’s just unfortunate for those involved in any of these situations that money becomes the top priority.
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