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
  • 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

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Smallwood puts future in jeopardy

    The last thing West Virginia’s struggling football program needed as twilight was setting on Bastille Day in Morgantown was to have one of its own whisked off to the North Central Regional Jail on a fugitive warrant from another state, especially a player who had figured to play a key role in the resurrection of a program gone bad.

    July 16, 2014

  • WVU player arrested in Delaware case

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood has been arrested by university police and is being held at North Central Regional Jail awaiting extradition on a felony warrant out of Delaware.

    July 15, 2014

  • WVU hoping to add two non-conference contests

    West Virginia is nearing the completion of deals to play football games against long-time rival Virginia Tech, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference, according to a source close to the negotiations.
    An announcement is expected shortly.

    July 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: MLB All-Star game biggest celebration of top athletes

    You will pardon me if I find something else to do when the Pro Bowl rolls around, or if I try to find a “Three Stooges” marathon when it’s time for the NHL All-Star game. As for the NBA All-Star game, I’d rather watch a replay of a four-year-old Uruguay-Ethiopia World Cup soccer match in which I knew the outcome.
     

    July 14, 2014

  • Howes learns to ‘never settle’ as WVU administrator

    You probably don’t know much about Terri Howes, even though she is a rather high-ranking executive in the West Virginia University athletic department.
    “I like it that way,” she said, sitting in a large office at the Coliseum, decorated with pictures and memorabilia, a jar of candy sitting by the door for visitors to dip into.

    July 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Rich Rod’s return not impossible

    As you may guess, in the wake of LeBron James’ decision to let bygones be millions and return to his rooters in Cleveland, more than once was I approached with someone wanting to know if this opened the door for a return to West Virginia University of their once-reviled coach Rich Rodriguez.

    July 13, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Trickett best option as a leader

    In the end, West Virginia University’s decision to place the mantle of starting quarterback upon veteran Clint Trickett was less about quarterback than it was about leadership.
    This is not to say that Trickett lacks the talent to succeed as quarterback in coach Dana Holgorsen’s system.

    July 6, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads