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- WVU faithful again have a reason to root against Vick

    It would be one final indignation, that’s what it would be if Michael Vick were to beat out Geno Smith and win the starting quarterback job with the New York Jets.

    April 23, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Luck open to WVU fans’ suggestions

    West Virginia’s fans have spoken, perhaps not verbally but nonetheless have had their voices heard, over the past few years as attendance has fallen at the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mountaineers ready for slate of rivalry games

    Looking to put together a late-season run to get into the NCAA championships, West Virginia faces a pair of midweek rivalry games in a crucial five-game week coming off winning two of three games at Oklahoma.

    April 22, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Summer, Alabama will be used to get WVU’s mind right

    The ink had barely dried on the final reports out of West Virginia’s spring practice when thoughts turned forward toward the lazy, hazy days of late summer, days that will bring us into football season with a game that can either change the entire image of WVU football or sour it even further.

    April 21, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Watson tees off a new century at The Greenbrier

    You knew this was going to be one of those unpredictable, memorable days when you drove into the Greenbrier Resort and headed to the Old White Golf Course and found the best parking place in the joint.
    As Bob Uecker would say, right there in the front rooooow.

    April 20, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads