The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

December 2, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Henderson needs to be healthy for WVU’s success

MORGANTOWN — He is, in his own way, the forgotten man in the mix for West Virginia this season.

Juwan Staten runs the point and with it the team. Eron Harris is charged with providing the scoring power. Devin Williams is the inside force.

Terry Henderson?

Yeah, he’s here, too, coming back off an injury that slowed him through the early games and that has kept him from providing West Virginia with a crucial element in their game.

“Terry is so out of rhythm he’s probably trying too hard,” said coach Bob Huggins. “He’s a great kid and he’s probably trying too hard to get back. There’s nothing like reps. It’s got to be comfortable. You have to feel like you are in the flow, and he’s been out of the flow.”

Huggins looks at it this way with Henderson, an interesting way to look at anyone, indeed, but one that gives a lot of insight into why Huggins has been as good a coach as he has been over the years, even as much criticism has come his way.

“When you are like Terry, sometimes being a great guy in sports is not a good thing,” he said. “You put too many things on yourself; you think too much; you care too much. The guys who are really great scorers, they’ll miss 10 and think they’re going to make the next 10 ... and probably will. Terry is not that way.

“Eron is more that way than Terry is. Eron is a great guy, too, but he doesn’t have the conscience that Terry does.”

Huggins has been criticized over the years, especially in Cincinnati, for some of his “projects.”

His teams were known to be tough and his players often got themselves into situations that you probably don’t want as an educational institution, but that sometimes come in bringing players and not students into school.

Here, Huggins has seemingly changed his way, his players keeping stories about themselves on the sports pages rather than the news pages.

But what was it Leo Durocher said all those years ago?

“Nice guys finish last.”

That was it, and Henderson certainly is one of those nice guys who Huggins has to prod into being more forceful, for he does make a difference when he’s on the floor and playing well.

In Cancun, when Wisconsin outlasted WVU, Henderson was not at the top of his game.

“Between Eron and Juwan they scored 48 of our 65,” Huggins noted when asked how Henderson makes the Mountaineers better. “He gives us that other guy. Everybody has to guard him. They know he can make shots. He may be our best offensive rebounder. He gives us another dimension we haven’t had.”

The Mountaineers tried to make up for it with Gary Browne on the wing, but he was miscast in that role. As Henderson has battled back from injury, more was asked of true freshman Nate Adrian than maybe should have been.

“We’ve kind of put Gary out there, but his role is not as much to score as it is to do the other things he does,” Huggins said. “Terry has been through a year in the Big 12, a year of playing nationally ranked teams, and Nate Adrian hasn’t.”

Henderson admits it was tougher coming off his injury than he imagined.

“I was so excited coming in. I felt I was running better in the preseason, more athletic than last year, and I was thinking, ‘Why? Why now?’” he said. “It was tough. Sitting out the Fairmont State game was tough. I wanted to play that and it was an exhibition. It was just something had to get into my head and know everything happens for a reason.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

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