The Times West Virginian

Sports

February 16, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU shooting struggles create record low

MORGANTOWN — Sometimes a team’s weakness is disguised, hidden away in the hundreds of statistics that make up a basketball stat sheet.

Not with West Virginia University.

Not this year.

West Virginia does not have a player averaging in double figures.

None. Zero. Nada.

How rare is this?

It is the only team in the power six conferences that does not have at least one player scoring 10 or more points per game.

That shows it to be rare, but not how rare.

This is so rare that the last time it happened at West Virginia was in …

Go ahead, take a guess. We’ll wait a few paragraphs here before letting you know when it is.

WVU’s top scorer this season is Aaric Murray. He averages 9.3 points a game, You can’t even round that off to double figures. He isn’t even a starter, at least in 10 of the first 23 games he has come off the bench.

Second is Juwan Staten, who averages 9.0 a game.

You want to know about what kind of scorer he is. Well, he has played 665 minutes, more minutes than any other Mountaineer and he has yet to hit a 3-point shot.

Let’s go back to what we were saying earlier — none. Zero. Nada. 0-for-7 from 3.

By now you are getting the picture, so let’s let you in on when WVU last played an entire season without a double-figure scorer.

1944.

That’s right, 69 years ago during World War II, when nearly every able-bodied person was in the service.

In truth, if WVU is to find a double-figure scorer before the season is over it most likely will be the man who ranks third now, freshman Eron Harris, who averaged 8.9 points a game but has, since Big 12 conference play has begun, averaged 12.2 points a game in conference play.

So why does WVU not have a go-to guy, a scorer?

Coach Bob Huggins had planned on it being Deniz Kilicli, still does use him when he really needs points, but Kilicli has not had the year that they had hoped.

“He obviously hasn’t been as productive as the guys in the past have, but that’s where we go,” Huggins said.

In truth, Harris is rapidly becoming that guy and for good reason.

“He scores a lot of ways,” Huggins said. “You look at his 19 (against Baylor in WVU’s last game), I think he had four layups. He gets a lot of transition and transition baskets have a tendency to help your field goal percentage.”

But WVU doesn’t get a lot of transition stuff, and the team has not played efficiently otherwise.

“We need to be more efficient in half court. He needs to be more efficient in half court,” Huggins said. “He is the one guy who can score in different ways. He scores in transition; he can make a 3; he drives at the basket. He’s probably our most versatile scorer.”

And that is what WVU needs right now, someone like Da’Sean Butler, who could jump shoot, drive and get offensive rebounds, but you have to remember that Harris is only a freshman and that will take some time.

In truth, Huggins didn’t think he would need Harris to be a scorer this year. He actually thought he would get a lot of production out of Kilicli, Murray and transfer Matt Humphrey.

“I thought going into the season Matt Humphrey would score for us, and he hurt his shoulder and hasn’t been the same,” Huggins said.

And another freshman, Terry Henderson, also looked as if he might be a productive scorer.

“Terry Henderson got it going pretty good and he got hurt. We just haven’t had as consistent a year. We’ve had more guys miss practice with injuries than we had in a long time. These were just nagging things I don’t know ever healed up.”

And so every game has been a feeling-out process.

“You go to where you think you can score, and that depends on how they are playing you,” Huggins said.

For example, against Baylor, he expected Murray to be able to score out of the 4 spot because Baylor wasn’t guarding there, but he picked up two fouls in the blink of an eye and that put an end to that theory.

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

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