The Times West Virginian

Sports

January 5, 2013

New beginning

WVU opens Big 12 hoops slate against Oklahoma

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University’s puzzling basketball team moves into Big 12 play at 4 p.m. today as it hosts Oklahoma in a game that symbolizes the birth of a new era.

The Mountaineers have staggered through their non-conference play, a team in transition as it tries to blend in a trio of transfers who sat out last season with some veterans and talented freshmen.

They have won 7 and lost 5, one of the losses being an early season 77-70 defeat to the Sooners in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., a rare non-conference confrontation between conference opponents.

If the Sooners, 10-3, did anything to beat WVU in the first meeting it was to keep coming at them hard.

“They really beat us in transition the last time,” Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins said. “Their last six or seven baskets were either transition or second shots. They do a great job in transition, but they don’t have to do that.”

“It seemed every time we scored, they came right back at us,” recalled center Deniz Kilicli from the first meeting. “We have to get back on defense.”

Normally, West Virginia is the team that dictates the style and pace of the game, that being the recipe Huggins has used to accumulate more than 700 victories. His career record stands at 717-272.

Normally, upon entering conference play, you come in contact with teams you have played over and over.

“Generally I think it means more familiarity, but this year I don’t think that’s true,” Huggins said.

“You know, you play Georgetown year after year you know what you’re getting.”

Now though it’s a journey into the unknown on both sides, which normally is an advantage for WVU.

“I think what happens is when you play us, we’re not going to let you run your sets; we’re going to take you out of things to where you are playing a lot of ball screens,” Huggins said. “That’s pretty much what everyone we played has said for a long time.”

“How we play is different than everybody else,” Kilicli added. “When we were good, my sophomore year, no one scored their average. That’s what we have to get to.”

This is what Huggins has been preaching, but he’s had a lot of trouble getting through to this team.

“I can’t even get them in the right spot out of a timeout, and I always thought that was our great strength before,” he said. “With Da’(Sean Butler) and Devin (Ebanks), we could change on the fly.”

This team has had trouble running its sets, let alone making adjustments as it goes along. Part of it, of course, is that they just haven’t spent enough time with each other the floor so that everything comes without thinking about it.

“I think we are getting better,” Kilicli said, aware the team has won three straight. “We did whatever we can to get better. Huggs made sure we took care of what we need to. It’s on us.”

Part of it has been that they understand what they can and cannot do. This is not a good outside-shooting team, and that has led them over the past few games to be more physical and go at the basket harder and more often.

“We’re trying to get to the line more. We’re trying to spread people as much as we can spread people and get to the basket,” Huggins said.

The result is that the Mountaineers have been to the line 74 times in the past three games, free points, and points are precious at this stage of the year until Huggins can figure out a way to get some scoring going.

He’s even contemplating getting more outside shooting from his big men, in part because some of them, led by Aaric Murray, are good outside shots and because it opens the driving lanes to the basket.

“It’s kind of like what I did in Cincinnati one time. We kept clanging shots, so I told the big guys you get out there beyond the line and let the guards go inside and rebound and see how they like it. What happened was I had this guy Keith Starks start making them, then another guy made a few and it really changed what we did,” Huggins said. “Against the zone I put Starks out there and let him shoot it and made the guards rebound. I may do that here.

“It gets Aaric out where he can make some shots. I told those guards if they leave the outside to kick it back out to him because he makes those shots better than you do.”

Slowly, they seem to be moving forward but they are now out of time.

“I think we scored more points against them than anyone else,” Huggins of the 70 they scored on Oklahoma in the first meeting. “Their three losses, they scored 60 or less, so we have to do a good job of defending them.”

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

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Wheeling holds off Post 17 rally in state tourney opener

    Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Mo Felt nearly went the distance in a 7-6 victory over Fairmont Post 17 on Tuesday afternoon at the West Virginia American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Hawley Field.

    July 30, 2014

  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.
    The Pete Dye course, ranked No. 45 on Golf Digest’s ranking of America’s 100 Greatest Courses and No. 9 on Golfweek’s ranking of Best Modern Courses, will host 160 of the best junior golfers from 40 states during the 72-hole stroke play event.

    July 30, 2014

  • Scott sees swift title contention for Lakers

    Byron Scott was a key component of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Showtime teams, a smooth shooting guard with sizzling competitive fire. He believes his purple-and-gold championship pedigree makes him the ideal coach to return the struggling 16-time champions to NBA contention.
    “This organization is all about championships, period,” Scott said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “We don’t look at Western Conference finals, Western Conference championships. We look at (NBA) championships. And we know we have some work ahead of us, but I’m excited. ... I love challenges anyway, so this is going to be fun.”

    July 30, 2014

  • Opinion: People running NCAA may not be bumbling idiots

    Two down, one big one to go.
    And with it a growing realization that maybe the people running the NCAA aren’t the bumbling idiots everyone has been making them out to be.
    The NCAA’s agreement Tuesday to create a $70 million fund to diagnose concussions and brain injuries does more than just give some former and current athletes a bit of peace of mind — if no real money. It also extricates the organization from another serious threat to its existence, one that could have potentially bankrupted it if everyone who ever suffered a concussion playing college sports were somehow able to cash in.

    July 30, 2014

  • Steelers Camp Footbal_time2.jpg Bell looking for more decisive, productive season

    Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
    There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.
    Sometimes, one would appear. Sometimes it wouldn’t, mainly because whatever sliver of daylight existed had already been swallowed by darkness while Bell was still trying to read the blocks in front of him.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • dungy0725 (1).jpg Rice, Dungy sideshows stain NFL

    The National Football League guards its reputation as aggressively as lineman are paid to protect a quarterback.
    So, as training camp opens around the country, how odd is it to see Commissioner Roger Goodell’s 32-team NFL empire battling bad headlines and stinging criticism from all quarters?
    Anyone want to talk to the new quarterback for his early assessment of playing with the best and biggest players in the land? That would be business as usual. Nothing has been routine about the early days of camp this season.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Post 17 #7 Post 2 #12 mw.JPG DeVaul wraps up final season as Post 17’s leader

    If you were to ask players on Fairmont American Legion Post 17’s roster who they looked up to, you’d find a familiar pattern.
    Sure, you may get some Andrew McCutchens or some Derek Jeters as replies. But if you want to find out the real answer, just look into the dugout.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big ‘I’ golf coming to Pete Dye

    The Trusted Choice Big “I” National Championship will make its first trip to West Virginia when Pete Dye Golf Club hosts the 46th annual installment of the event Aug. 5-8.

    July 29, 2014

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Photos
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings