By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Even though he has not played for the past three halves and has been buried in Coach Bob Huggins’ doghouse, Juwan Staten remains a part of the West Virginia basketball team and will be on the road when they play at Iowa State on Wednesday night.
Huggins has claimed that Staten, a transfer from the University of Dayton, has not been on the same page with the coach and that led to an incident against Oklahoma that forced Huggins to bench him.
“Everybody has to be on the same page. If everyone isn’t on the same page, you don’t have a very good team,” Huggins said when asked about it during Monday’s Big 12 men’s basketball coaches’ conference call. “We all make mistakes. He is going to travel and we have two days of practice before Iowa State. We’ll see where everything is and where it goes from there.”
That, of course, stops far short of saying he will reclaim his starting point guard job, but it does say that Huggins is giving him the opportunity to get on the right track.
Such problems apparently have come with the package that is Staten, an extremely talented player who averaged 8.5 points and 5.4 assists to lead the Atlantic 10 while starting 34 games as a freshman at Dayton.
A number of readers’ responses to a Monday column suggested that was why there was not much of an outcry over his transfer from Dayton, even though he had a bright future at the school.
Upon announcing he was transferring to Penn State, an ESPN blog wrote the following:
“The talented Dayton transfer didn’t exactly live up to his prep years hype for the Flyers — and he burned a few bridges in Dayton in doing so ...”
That transfer was anything but smooth, as after announcing he was going to attend Penn State the Nittany Lions coach Ed DeChellis quit his job and left for Navy, opening the door for him to change his mind to attend WVU.
Huggins, who was beginning to rebuild his program, welcomed him to the program along with Aaric Murray, a gifted 6-10 transfer from LaSalle. Both sat out last year and then were joined by Oregon/Boston College transfer Matt Humphrey to give WVU three transfers on this year’s squad.
Humphrey’s contribution for this, his senior season, has been negligible, while Murray has come under some criticism from Huggins about not playing all out every play and recently has been coming off the bench, even though he remains the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.
“We have to get him to not take some plays off, but he’s getting better every time out,” Huggins said of Murray.
This naturally leads to a philosophical question about the wisdom of relying on transfers to build around.
Huggins says he has no problem with it.
“I kind of like it,” he said. “We haven’t had a whole bunch (of transfers), but we’ve had a few over the years.”
He pointed toward Jermaine Tate, who transferred from Ohio State to Cincinnati and was a big contributor to Huggins’ Bearcats, as one who made a difference.
But finding the proper transfers is tricky, especially with basketball’s trends today.
“It’s just with us going from 15 scholarships to 13 scholarships ... transfers happen after season and we often have our allotment of scholarships filled,” he said.
Then, too, there is normally a reason a player is transferring and often it is because the player and the coach are not on the same page, be it playing time or method of running the team or whatever, so there is a risk involved.
Having transfers and young players has turned the season into a process for Huggins, and it shows in an 8-7 record.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.