The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 1, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Shooting has held WVU back

MORGANTOWN — Bob Huggins and his staff had spent long, intense hours studying a Baylor team that was slipping as it headed for West Virginia University and Wednesday night’s game.

It was a team that had been having troubles of its own, and Huggins was trying to find something that might work for his team.

He came up with a different offense than he had run in the past while, at the same time, started a different group of players.

“I’ve tried everything other than putting a peach basket up,” he said.

It almost worked, too, as it set freshman Eron Harris off on a career-high 25 points and let the Mountaineers carry a lead into the second half, before finishing the same old way, losing 65-62 as point guard Juwan Staten’s 3-point shot to tie was partially blocked and fell harmlessly short.

The new offense, the new lineup added up to a new approach.

“We played hard. If there’s such a thing as feeling better, I feel better because we did play hard,’’ Huggins said. “I got all the pouters out of there and let them sit on the bench and pout.’’

Huggins didn’t name his “pouters,” but Aaric Murray played only four minutes after starting and Jabarie Hinds, who had started all but two games, played just six minutes.

Those who played went after Baylor.

“I’m kind of proud of our guys. We just put in a new offense yesterday,” Kevin Noreen said after the game. “It’s really just ball screens, hand-offs, back cuts, dribble hand-offs, and I think it was pretty effective tonight. We had a lot of looks at the basket; we had a lot of good, open shots. Didn’t convert many of the open shots, but we got those layups and good looks with Turk (Deniz Kilicli) inside.”

In the end, though, it came down to balls not dropping.

Kilicli had his looks but went 1-for-7 from the floor, and when WVU was gunning from outside, it managed to make just 3-of-17 from 3-point range.

“It gave us better movement,” Huggins said. “It’s the same old thing. They don’t guard a couple of our guys, and we haven’t done a good enough job of making shots. We get shots. It’s not like we don’t get shots.”

West Virginia’s inability to make shots had allowed defenses to drop off down low and make life difficult inside without worrying about the outside players hurting them. The new offense brought the big men out, Noreen even hitting a 3 and just missing another, and opening up lanes to the basket or mid-range jumpers.

Critics — and when you are 13-15 there are critics everywhere — have found thousands of other things wrong with the Mountaineers … their passing is bad, they don’t play hard, they can’t guard, etc., etc., etc.

The fact of the matter is, though, that the thing that has held them back is their inability to make shots.

For example, the past two games, Harris, who has to score for them to have a chance, was slumping, scoring just two and four points.

He came out of it against Baylor, yet …

“It’s the end result that matters, so regardless of how I played we still didn’t reach the goal that we were trying to reach,” the freshman said.

And one reason was that when he had a chance at the end of the game to hit a 3, he missed, too.

Kilicli had set him a solid screen, which he used to get the look.

“I was supposed to go backdoor, but they played the backdoor, so I backed off,” Harris said. “Initially I felt open, but I thought I was too deep so I stepped in. But I can shoot it deep. I probably should have just shot it. It’s a key shot I didn’t make.”

If that was a mistake, it was about the only one of consequence that Harris made as he emerged as the player Huggins has been waiting to see.

In truth, as you look at this WVU team, if it can get Harris and Terry Henderson, a pair of freshmen, to take over the scoring load from the outside, the Mountaineers have the basis of a solid team in the future, which is all WVU is playing for at present.

As Kilicli, a senior, put it, “I’m not going to be here next year. Neither will a lot of people.”

Considering that there are few seniors and fewer players capable of declaring for the NBA, that means Huggins will be running off the players who have let him down this year.

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

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
    “In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
    Reading that turned on a light.

    July 31, 2014

  • WVU takes first step today

    Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
    Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”

    July 31, 2014

  • 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

House Ads
Featured Ads