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
  • 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