The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

February 15, 2013

WVU progressing at a snail’s pace

MORGANTOWN — The words that were coming out of Bob Huggins’ mouth in his post-game discussions of West Virginia University’s 20-point loss to Baylor, 80-60, on Wednesday were startling if for no other reason than it showed how miserably the Hall of Fame coach-to-be had failed to get this year’s team to improve.

Oh, a recent three-game winning streak against the lower ladder of the Big 12 had shown improvement in shooting and defense, maybe, but when it comes to playing the game … well, it just wasn’t happening.

Here the team was 24 games into the season and it was doing things … well, it was doing things that Huggins couldn’t even recognize.

Honest … and it came early, before there were excuses about fouls putting players on the bench or trying to improvise in desperation.

It started with the game’s second possession by WVU, a time when guard Gary Browne, already a mess with a black eye that came from an elbow in practice during the week, was trying to inbound the ball under his own basket.

He tried to arch a touch pass to the invisible man, or so it seemed, only to have Pierre Jackson, wearing the opponent’s jersey, snatch it away and go unopposed for a basket at the other end of the court.

“I don’t know what they ran when we threw them the ball the first time,” Huggins said. “I have no idea. I’ve never seen that out of bounds play. We’ve never lined up like that. I’ve never seen it. I don’t know what the hell they were doing.”

That’s one of those “good news, bad news” things.

The bad news, quite obviously, is that Huggins, as he said, “didn’t know what the hell they were doing.”

The good news was that at least Baylor had never seen it before and didn’t have it in its scouting report.

This is something a coach might expect early in the season, especially with a team whose guards are freshmen and sophomores, but this is not early in the season.

“It’s happened all year long,” Huggins said. “You can’t drill everything every day. As it is, we go three hours and everybody thinks I’m insane. We go three hours, but you can’t drill everything every day. At some point, you have to be a basketball player.”

That is the key to it all.

“At some point, you have to be a basketball player.”

A basketball player isn’t just someone running around with a number on his jersey wearing baggy shorts and $200 gym shoes. He isn’t just someone who can dunk or run fast or jump high.

He is someone who knows how to play the game, who doesn’t throw it away 18 times in the 24th game of the season.

Do it on the road at Gonzaga in the first game, as WVU did with 20 turnovers in that opener, fine. It happens, but it’s supposed to be part of the learning process.

Becoming a basketball player includes learning what to do and what not to do.

This year’s group seems to be slowly learning what to do but not what not to do, making many of the same mistakes that cost them so dearly earlier in the season when it was all getting away from them.

Now it’s true that in this game the officials made life difficult for WVU as its players committed what was deemed foul after foul, but the idea is to learn how the officials are calling the game and stay away from doing things they are sure to call on you.

Aaric Murray, who is maybe the most talented player on the team, managed somehow to get two fouls in 15 seconds, add a third moments after he was brought back in the game. He wound up with only 12 minutes of playing time.

It is hard to be a basketball player when you are on the bench for 28 minutes and on the floor for just 12.

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