The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 21, 2013

Browne continues to improve for WVU 

MORGANTOWN — Considering all that has happened this year to derail the West Virginia University basketball team, the Mountaineers have actually put themselves in a good position as the calendar year comes to a close.

They had to deal with a pair of important players in Elijah Macon and Jonathon Holton failing to qualify, with a pre-season injury to Terry Henderson that slowed his development into the season and the necessity to throw some freshmen like Devin Williams and Nathan Adrian into the mix before they were fully ready to accept such important roles.

Still, the record is 7-4 with three really tough losses to Top 20 teams Wisconsin, Gonzaga and Missouri as Purdue of the Big Ten, sporting an 8-3 record, comes to town for a nationally televised game at 1 p.m. Sunday.

With all that has happened, WVU’s ability to survive can be credited to the play of their four guards – the aforementioned Henderson, who is now healed and reaching top form with four consecutive double-figure outings; Eron Harris, who has emerged as the team’s leading scorer; point guard Juwan Staten, who has 72 assists to 19 turnovers while averaging 16.6 points a game, and Gary Browne.

As important as the first three guards are, Browne’s story may be the most surprising, for he comes into the year following a dreadful season.

Browne’s play reached such levels last year that there was talk that he might not be brought back, but coach Bob Huggins saw an inner light shining in Browne that convinced him he would work his way back into top playing form.

Huggins let Jabarie Hines go and kept Browne, a move that has proven to be a solid for Browne has gone from being possibly the worst shooter on the team a year ago to the best.

A year ago Gary Browne shot 32.5 percent from the field, 20.4 percent from 3.

A college basketball player can shoot 20 percent from three wearing an eye patch.

Call it the sophomore jinx, if you must, but Gary Browne was awful … and knew it.

He set out to do something about it and put himself in the hands of the best shooting coach there ever was.

“I’m a guy who believes if I work hard every day God will take care of the results, sooner or later,” he said.

Browne was convinced he was a good shooter, always had been.

“I played on the Puerto Rican national team,” he said, offering that as evidence of his ability to shoot.

All he needed to do was work hard and gain confidence.

In fact, confidence was the key.

“If you don’t have confidence in what you do, you won’t be good at it,” he said. ”At the same time, the Lord helped me.”

He has been shooting as if there was some kind of divine intervention. This year his field-goal percentage went from that 32.5 percent to 53.8 percent, and his 3-point shooting has jumped from 20.4 percent to 47.8 percent.

In fact, he has 11 3s already, equaling the total he had in both his freshman and sophomore seasons.

What this does is force the defense to play him tightly, which means they can’t offer help on Harris.

It also gives Browne a better chance to do what he does best, which is drive to the basket.

Browne understands that this upcoming game against Purdue is crucial to the Mountaineers’ drive to get back into post-season play.

“We mention to the guys we need every game, every non-conference game. We are 7-4. We have already lost four games. We can’t afford to lose any more games,” he said. “We need to make sure we beat teams like this. They are a good team from a good conference, and you’re never sure how they will end up.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: O’Toole joins long list of eccentric WVU kickers, punters

    The star of the Big 12’s annual football media day wasn’t a star at all.
    He intrigued the media far more than Bob Stoops, the coach of preseason favorite Oklahoma, and more than Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the preseason player of the year.

    July 25, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Saban, family happy at Alabama

    Alabama football coach Nick Saban, whose team opens the season against West Virginia in Atlanta on Aug. 30, denied receiving or turning down this offseason an offer of $100 million to coach Texas, indicating he planned to finish his career as coach of the Crimson Tide.

    July 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Quarterback child prodigy’ comes to WVU amidst very high expectations

    Has West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen finally put the arrow he needs in his quiver with the commitment received Wednesday from high school quarterback David Sills, who is a rather extraordinary story and may also just be a rather extraordinary quarterback?

    July 18, 2014

  • WVU kicker Molinari ‘All-American boy’

    West Virginia kicker Mike Molinari may not be an All-American but he is an All-American boy.
    He was honored for that on Wednesday when the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced the West Virginia redshirt senior kicker/punter Michael Molinari is a nominee for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.

    July 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads