The Times West Virginian

Sports

January 11, 2014

WVU must play Smart to beat Oklahoma State

MORGANTOWN — From 1965 to 1970, there was a hit television sitcom entitled “Get Smart,” a very funny spoof on the James Bond secret agent rage of the era.

This afternoon at the Coliseum, West Virginia University will stage its own version of “Get Smart,” only there doesn’t figure to be anything funny about it because unlike the villain in TV show KAOS, which went after the fictional hero Maxwell Smart, West Virginia will be chasing down a real-life hero in Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, last year’s Big 12 Player of the Year.

Game time is 4 p.m. and it will be carried on WDTV.

Like Maxwell Smart on the TV show, Marcus Smart is surrounded by a strong cast of supporting players – none quite as good looking at Barbara Feldon was – in his Cowboy teammates who have gotten off to a 13-2 start (1-1 in the Big 12) and carry a No. 11/12 ranking.

WVU is 10-5 and 2-0 in the conference but is hungry for a signature victory, and it can get one against Oklahoma State, although it will be far more challenging than anything Maxwell Smart every undertook in his fictional role.

“They are the most athletic team we have played to this point,” coach Bob Huggins said.

And it is Smart who leads the way.

“Smart is terrific, does so many things for them, but they have lot of guys who are extremely athletic,” Huggins said. “(Kaman) Murphy is a heck of a shot blocker, and they are all so quick to the ball. Smart has made some just eye-popping blocks.”

Then there is Markel Brown.

“He was leading the league in scoring a year ago. He’s right back up there again (averaging 17.1 points a game). He bounces it better than a year ago, and Smart shoots it better than a year ago,” Huggins said.

It is Oklahoma State’s athleticism and speed that worries Huggins.

“You try to keep them out of transition,” he said. “The best way to keep them out of transition is to score. We need to take quick shots, but we need to be selective with our shots. What we can’t do is bang them off the front of the rim. That comes off like an outlet pass, and they are off to the races.”

You don’t want to turn this basketball game into a track meet.

“They lead the league in steals. I don’t think there’s any question they are the fastest team in the league. They transition from one end to the other faster than anybody else,” Huggins said.

That puts a lot of pressure on Juwan Staten, WVU’s star point guard who is coming off a 25-point effort at Texas Tech, to control not only the tempo of the game but to try and protect the basketball, something that won’t be easy.

Staten not only is averaging 16.8 points a game with 6 assists per contest, but he also averages 6.1 rebounds a game and has taken down 6 or more in seven of the last nine games.

Rebounding will be key in this game, and WVU is coming off a game at Texas Tech where it was punished on the boards.

“We have to rebound the ball. When we rebound well, that forces people to send more people to the glass. They can’t leak out as much (and run in transition),” Huggins said.

WVU also could use a hot shooting hand from its leading scorer, Eron Harris. Harris is second the Big 12 at 18.5 points a game and also second in 3-point field goals made with 41, but he is coming off a bad shooting game against Texas Tech, although it’s hard to convince anyone of that since he scored 18 points.

Huggins isn’t worried about it turning into a shooting slump.

“He’s a guy who doesn’t seem to be bothered as much as other people. Missing a shot bothers Terry Henderson more than it does Eron Harris,” Huggins said. “I think a lot of that is guys that can score kind of have that mentality. They figure they miss one, they’ll make the next one. I think Eron is a lot that way.”

WVU will go into the game for the first time knowing that Jonathan Holton will not be available to play this year, the NCAA turning down WVU’s request to allow him to play.

Holton, who transferred to West Virginia from Palm Beach State Community College, will continue to practice with the team. He will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2014-15 season.

“I know Jonathan is disappointed by not being able to compete this season, but he has had a terrific attitude in practice and will use this redshirt season to work on his game and become a better basketball player,” said Huggins.

“We look forward to Jonathan having two full seasons of eligibility remaining.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • 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

  • Return to Mountain State exciting for new sports writer

    When I packed my belongings out of my Morgantown apartment in May, fresh with a journalism degree from West Virginia University, I thought I had ended a chapter of my life and closed the book on my experience inside the great Mountain State forever.
    It wasn’t until I received a phone call back in my hometown of Canton, Ohio, from the Times West Virginian that the idea of a return to the area became a possibility. The opportunity to begin my professional career in an area that I’ve become comfortable with for the past several years was too good to pass by.

    July 29, 2014

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