The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 23, 2012

WVU men power past Marist

MORGANTOWN — Bob Huggins earned whatever 10 days of a $3-million-a-year contract is these past 10 days as re-invented his West Virginia University basketball team, picking them up off the floor after the worst defeat of his career at Gonzaga and turning them into a team that fit the image he has of it.

They came out in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday and kicked an overmatched Marist team in the gut, 87-44, playing in-your-face defense, pounding the boards and the floor for every loose ball, running at every opportunity yet valuing the basketball as if it were the last of the turkey legs on Thanksgiving night and finally shooting the ball with authority.

It was, to be sure, one of Huggins’ better coaching jobs, shaking any doubt about themselves from the minds of the players, forcing them to think whatever torturous coaching methods he had in store for them would erase the bitter taste of that trip to Spokane, Wash.

In a way, Huggins reinvented the team. He used two new starters in Kevin Noreen and Aaron Brown, holding Aaric Murray back until the second half, while unleashing a pair of freshmen on an unsuspecting Marist team in Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, who wound up being the team’s leading scorers.

Whatever it is those two had for a pre-game meal they should have shared with the world, for they were armed and dangerous as Huggins inserted them into the game.

In truth, this did not surprise insiders, for Huggins had shared his belief that they were ready to contribute in a big way, even though they themselves were more of a mind of coming to WVU and listening and learning during the first year.

“I’m blessed to be able to play my freshman year,” said Harris. “I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else but Terry.”

It was Henderson who was first off the bench, and he brought with him a gallon of Red Bull, at least in spirit.

He said it was Huggins who put the gas in his tank.

“He came out (after Gonzaga ) and harassed us and got us going,” he said.

It was obvious from the start that the Mountaineers were a different group that sleepwalked through the Washington experience, but it was Henderson who lit up the scoreboard from the outside game and got them going in the transition game.

“I saw a team that needed to make some shots, and I just wanted to get us going,” he said. “I was just being aggressive and helping the team as best I could.”

By halftime he had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting with four rebounds, two assists and nary a turnover. By then the game was over.

The shooting that came from him was hardly shocking. Jay Jacobs, the veteran play-by-play announcer, compared his jump shot to Da’Sean Butler’s, which is pretty good company when you are just playing your second college game.

Harris eventually passed Henderson and had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting. The two freshmen combined for 12 of 16 from the floor, including some spectacular dunks on the front end of some flashy transition baskets.

“This has been the most comfortable I’ve felt at West Virginia,” Harris admitted. “Everyone noticed it; my confidence has been up and down. This is the highest it’s been, and it will stay there.”

The reason came from his teammates and coaches.

“I felt like my teammates and coaches put trust in me. I felt I could make mistakes and not get taken out of there,” Harris said.

With Henderson and Harris leading the way, the WVU bench was spectacular. Four players came off the bench to score in double figures. In all, the bench scored 61 of the 87 points, hitting 26 of 40 shots, 65 percent.

“We have pieces,” Huggins said, his 711th victory in hand. “I have got to keep working with them. Everyone says, ‘Who are your top seven? I’m not sure I know who they are, but Henderson is working his way in there.”

At 12:30 today they go into the second round of the Old Spice Classic, facing Davidson, who defeated Vanderbilt yesterday afternoon, 75-62.

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail. 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