The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

March 10, 2014

WVU riding Kansas win into Big 12 Tournament

MORGANTOWN — All season long, whenever anyone would ask coach Bob Huggins what his West Virginia team had to do to win games — and believe it, that question came up before almost every game — Huggins always had the same answer.

“Make shots,” he would say. “We’re pretty dang good when we make shots.”

Now, you may ask, who isn’t?

Shoot 50 percent or better from the floor and anyone has a pretty good chance to win.

But with West Virginia it was different.

Making shots was their only chance to win.

They weren’t going to beat anyone with their defense. They weren’t going to beat anyone with their rebounding.

They needed to have at least three guys making shots, but the problem is it isn’t as easy as just shooting the ball into the basket.

See, a lot goes into it, more than just hoping Eron Harris is hot, Juwan Staten is his usual self and Remi Dibo or Nathan Adrian are hitting a few 3s.

On Saturday, as WVU ended its regular season with a stirring 92-86 victory over Kansas, Staten and Harris made shots, freshman center Devin Williams finally joined them and with all three surpassing 20 points, Kansas never had a chance ... not even with super frosh Andrew Wiggins scoring 41 points.

That is not a misprint — 41.

At one point he scored 14 consecutive points. It was so good that it tied Notre Dame’s Hall of Fame player Adrian Dantley and five others for the eighth-most points ever by a visiting player in the Coliseum. Not since Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell dropped 41 on the Mountaineers on Dec. 26, 2009, had anyone done it, and the last to score 41 in the Coliseum was Ohio U.’s Gary Trent in 1993.

But it didn’t matter.

Now you ask, “Why?” Why on this Saturday did it come back together for WVU?

Well, Kansas coach Bill Self would have you believe a lot of it had to do with poor defense on his team’s part, and you can’t argue that.

But the biggest factor may have been a player who scored only four points for the Mountaineers, for this game marked the return to the floor of a weaker, far thinner version of Terry Henderson, who had missed the last four games with a flu-like ailment.

Playing 15 minutes was probably more than was expected of Henderson and the four points were something of a bonus, but it was his presence that made a difference.

How much of a difference?

When Henderson was on the floor for those 15 minutes, WVU outscored Kansas by 13 points.

Why would he make that kind of difference?

Kansas had to pay defensive attention to him. He is the team’s third leading scorer. Gary Browne they don’t worry about that way at the expense of leaving Staten and Harris open. But Henderson requires attention, and attention means spreading the floor and that means more lanes through which to drive to the hoop.

Plus there was the matter of an emotional lift having him back on the court after missing four games.

“He lifted our spirits a little bit,” Staten said. “We got down the last few games without him, and he’s such a big part of the offense and a big part of what we do. Having him check into the game lifted the crowd’s spirit and helped us play a little bit better than we could have played.”

By beating Kansas, West Virginia earned a No. 6 seed in the Big 12 Tournament, which meant they don’t play on the first day and that could have meaning, for it gives Henderson another day to recover from his return to action and to allow Harris to shake a sore throat and cough that was bothering him Saturday.

Winning that sixth seed was a blessing and a problem, for it meant a tough foe the first time on the court in Kansas City, facing Texas, a team that won a pair of double-figure victories over the Mountaineers

That didn’t faze Harris, though.

“Regardless, you are going to have to play basketball games, no matter how many. If you are the best team, you are the best team. We are going to go in there and be humble and just worry about ourselves.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • 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

  • 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

House Ads
Featured Ads