The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 28, 2012

Huggins hopes to unlock lost offense

MORGANTOWN — It’s a tough act to follow, but West Virginia’s basketball team will follow Wiz Khalifa into the Coliseum tonight for its first home game of the season, and it can’t come any too soon.

The home opener comes 16 days after the first game of the year with WVU going out and testing itself against No. 23 Gonzaga, a game it would rather forget as it ended in a 34-point loss, then moving on to Florida for the Old Spice Classic, in which it lost to Davidson and Oklahoma while beating Marist.

The 1-3 start certainly is discouraging, but it must be noted that it came against difficult opponents, and Coach Bob Huggins believes that must be factored in.

“We’re going to be all right,” he vowed, for what, the 15th time since the season started? “We’ll get things straightened out. Truth is, to this point, we played a heck of a schedule. Whoever does it has it ranked the fourth toughest schedule in the country.”

The schedule eases up some with today’s 7 p.m. opponent, VMI, a team that has won three of six games while playing the game at a dizzying pace. The Keydets come off a 90-81 victory over Elon and also have defeated Old Dominion, 76-71, and Central Penn College, 116-81, while losing to The Citadel, 84-76; Army, 80-74; and Virginia Tech, 95-80.

But this game isn’t about VMI anywhere once you cross the border between Virginia and West Virginia. It is a game in which Huggins will be still trying to shape his 2012-13 team and correct any of a thousand different things that seem to go wrong.

It has been such a shaky start that one reporter in Huggins’ pregame press conference was moved to wonder if the team was in danger of “losing it.”

“Seem” is the operative word there, according to Huggins.

“It isn’t good, it’s as bad sometimes as you think it is. What is it they say? Things are never as bad as they seem to be,” he said.

“We’re not going to lose it. Thirty-one years and we’ve never lost it,” Huggins said in his most reassuring voice. “You have to learn from your mistakes.”

If that’s the case, Huggins has a textbook of a thousand pages to have his team learn from, for this is a team that hasn’t shot well from the field, hasn’t passed well, hasn’t run the break well, hasn’t rebounded well and hasn’t defended well.

Or so it seems.

After years of running the likes of Joe Alexander, Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Jones on the floor, Huggins now has a team without a double-figure scorer and one that has real troubles putting the ball in the basket.

This would seem strange, for these are high-profile players who have been scorers and anyone who knows kids who play basketball knows they spend a lot of time shooting the ball, yet it won’t fall here.

How does that happen?

“There are scorers who don’t shoot the ball real well,” Huggins said. “I don’t think any of us would say Kevin Jones was a great shooter, but he got his 20 a game.”

This is how Huggins sees what’s going on.

“Say you miss two jump shots but you get two layups and in your mind you’re saying, ‘Well, I’m two for four. I’m not having that bad a day.’ Then, when you shoot your next jump shot, you shoot it with confidence because in your mind you’re making shots,” he said.

“But what if you don’t have those layups and you shoot two more jump shots and miss? Now you’re 0 for 4 and you’re thinking the ball won’t go in. You have to do a better job getting layups ... but in all honesty, how many layups have we missed?

“We make some of those layups and all of a sudden you look at the shooting percentage and it’s pretty good. You go back to K.J., you know he made some 3s but he shot a good percentage because he found other ways to score. Scoring is not always shooting the ball,” Huggins continued.

“There are guys who score because they can shoot the ball but they find other ways to score. I had Ruben Patterson play for me who played in the NBA for 10 years and he couldn’t make a shot from me to you.”

It has been uncanny how WVU has failed to convert when it had numbers of the break, three times against Oklahoma, failing to get any points out of 2-on-1 breaks.

The odd part of that is that since WVU planned to run more this year than it had, they worked more on their transition game in practice than ever.

And as for finding points in other areas of the game, that just hasn’t happened.

“Against Oklahoma we had a couple of flurries around the basket, got three rebounds and missed layups,” Huggins said. “We have to do a better job of scoring around the basket.”

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

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • 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

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU punter turns heads at linebacker

    They call him “Huey the Punter.”
    His real name is Houstin Syvertson. His real position is not punter. Not anymore, anyway.
    To be honest, until Saturday’s spring game, not many people following West Virginia football knew the name or the nickname. They know it now.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads