The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

January 16, 2013

WVU vs. Iowa State clash in styles

First of two trip for Mountaineers this week

MORGANTOWN — When West Virginia University walks into Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, it is being billed as a basketball game between the Mountaineers and Cyclones, but it is far, far more than that.

Indeed, this a clash of basketball philosophies and approaches, a showdown of temperaments, if you prefer.

WVU’s Bob Huggins has always played the game with an edge on, turning it into a battle of mental and physical wills. He demands effort and defense and rebounding, but he goes against a counterpart in Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg with a totally different outlook upon the way the game should be played.

  Like Huggins, Hoiberg is coaching at his alma mater where he was a star player, averaging 20 points a game his senior season. Unlike Huggins, his game carried over into the NBA for a decade as a shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, the Chicago Bulls and the Minnesota Timberwolves, helping shape a far different philosophy than Huggins built as a college coach all those years.

The result is that even this year, as many teams across the nation struggle to score, Hoiberg’s teams go at a breakneck pace and shoot 3s as if they were going out of style.

The Cyclones lead the Big 12 in scoring by averaging 82.5 points a game, five more than second-place Kansas, and 14.5 more points a game than WVU has been able to scratch out. They have made more than twice as many 3s as WVU, 143-to-71, and love to get out and run.

Yet they hit the boards, leading the league in rebounding with 42.6 per game, led by league-leading rebounder Melvin Ejim, who averages 9.3 a game even though he stands just 6-6.

It all comes out of the philosophy Hoiberg has developed during his career.

“We want to get up and down the floor before the defense gets set,” he explained during Monday’s Big 12 basketball coaches’ conference call.

Hoiberg’s style is an outgrowth of some time spent with two pretty fair basketball minds during his NBA career.

“The big thing is to get guys to go out and play with confidence,” he said. “I played with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. It’s unbelievable how they could get us pumped up and go out and play with confidence you need.”

That’s a pair of Boston Celtics Hall of Famers, Bird who wound up in Indiana with the Pacers and McHale with the Minnesota Timberwolves, sharing their knowledge with players eager to learn from them.

That helped with all the 3s, but it is more than just the confidence. As much as they have been shooting the ball, they have been taking good shots, and as much as they have been running, they haven’t been throwing it away.

The good shots, he said, have come from working on spacing and making the extra pass, while the ability to play under control is a result of the play of point guard Korie Lucious, a transfer from Michigan State who has improved after sitting out last year as the season went on.

The result is that against Texas, as they bounced back from a demoralizing loss to Kansas in a game that was tied at the buzzer on a banked in 3 by the Jayhawks, they had only five turnovers despite playing at an uptempo pace.

“The reason we lost some of our earlier games was our inability to take care of the ball,” Hoiberg said. “I’m pleased with the way Korie has gone. He’s making simple plays. Earlier he was trying to get the ball into tight spaces and make home run passes.

“I think he was pressing then, excited to get out and play after a year off. He wasn’t horrible, just taking too many risky passes. We stuck with him and it has paid off now.”

West Virginia’s grit and determination will test them as the Mountaineers battle to land an important conference road victory that will keep their noses above.500 for the season, and Hoiberg knows it.

Huggins has said that his point guard, Juwan Staten, will be on the trip after not playing the last three halves, and if Huggins is taking him you would expect he’ll play him. Huggins also seemed determined to start Kevin Noreen and Dominique Rutledge while bringing Aaric Murray, his leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, off the bench.

After traveling to Iowa, WVU comes home for a day and then must go back out on the road to play a non-conference game at Purdue.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • 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

House Ads
Featured Ads