The Times West Virginian

Sports

February 14, 2014

Dibo, Adrian quietly stepping up

MORGANTOWN — So much of the focus on West Virginia University’s rally toward a potential NCAA Tournament bid has been focused on the magnificent play of Juwan Staten and the scoring of Eron Harris that, perhaps, overlooked has been the growth of two players who have taken the Mountaineers over the hump.

Those two players came into the season as projects for coach Bob Huggins, neither a typical Huggins-style player.

The first was transfer Remi Dibo, a Frenchman with a sweet trois-point shot but who had much to learn about defense and rebounding.

The other was a kid who grew up down the street, a freshman who opted to remain at home named Nathan Adrian.

He, like Dibo, was a shooter, but the way Huggins plays the game was not really ingrained in him as the season began.

Because it was a young team trying to get to know each other and know college basketball as it is played in the Big 12, the team got off to a slow start, could not win close games that it has suddenly found ways of winning as it prepares now to go to Texas for a Saturday game against the sizzling Longhorns.

Earlier this season, in Morgantown, Texas beat WVU, 80-69, but that was before things started clicking with Dibo and Adrian.

The last time WVU took the floor, those two may well have been the difference as it stunned No. 11 Iowa State, 102-77, the Mountaineers’ second win over a ranked team in three games and their fourth victory in their last five games.

Dibo provided his first 20-point performance while Adrian had a scrappy all-around game with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and a blocked shot.

Adrian’s best defensive work came as Iowa State was trying to mount a comeback.

First he made a steal knocking a ball loose, struggling on the floor to get it, passing it on ahead to Staten while still prone on the ground, only to have Staten waste the breakaway by slamming his two-handed dunk off the back iron.

Next time Adrian stole the ball he took it himself for the score, and then a couple of possessions later he made a clever rotation and blocked a Monte Morris layup.

“That’s getting to the ball. That’s what I’m used to seeing guys do. He was terrific. Really, a key to our run in the second half was his defensive play,” Huggins said during his post-game media conference.

When asked his thoughts on Adrian’s overall game, Huggins almost was gushing.

“I thought he was terrific. I think that’s the best he’s played,” he said. “They came out and kind of cut into the lead a little bit and he made like three defensive plays. He made the steal, threw it ahead. Then the play he made and stole the ball under the basket, that was a big-time play. That’s the kind of plays I’m used to seeing guys make. And he rebounded. He’s really got good hands.”

As important as Adrian’s improvement has been, Dibo has changed the whole philosophy with which Huggins plays. He likes rebounders in there but has opted to go with Dibo rather than Kevin Noreen or Brandon Watkins.

“I like to win more than I like to rebound,” he said. “I think that gives us the best chance to win.”

And Dibo’s ability to spread the floor and hit 3s has helped create this winning spurt.

Dibo said it’s just been a matter of his shot starting fall.

“When you hit a couple you feel confident; you just fire away. I felt comfortable, man, I wasn’t going to miss anything. I made six 3-point shots … good for me,” he said after the Iowa State game.

Asked how Dibo eventually found his shot, Huggins replied:

“When you take a lot of shots your chance for success increases. The first one to get to practice on Sunday was Remi. The last one to leave shoot around was Remi. The last one to leave shoot around today was Remi. Generally, that would be (junior guard) Juwan (Staten), but Remi was the one. It doesn’t guarantee you success, but it sure gives you a better chance. He made a few early, and that gives you some confidence, too.”

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.

    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

  • Black Diamond.jpg Black Diamond Express looking to add elite players

     Travel sports are said to be the cream of the crop for young athletes.
    Generally, youth are selected to play on travel league teams based upon a heightened skill level or an ability that exceeds the everyday athlete.
    That’s what the Black Diamond Express softball team in Morgantown is looking for, along with a few new elite players.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steelers’ Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 28, 2014

  • All tickets claimed for LeBron’s homecoming show

    LeBron James’ Ohio hometown says fans quickly claimed the thousands of tickets available for the homecoming event expected to be his first public appearance in the state since announcing his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    July 28, 2014

  • FSU to hold Falcon Fantasy Camp

    Ever want to be a college football coach? Now you’ll have your chance thanks to Fairmont State University’s Falcon Fantasy Camp.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lawyer: Wife plotted to take over Sterling trust

    A lawyer argued Monday that the estranged wife of Donald Sterling plotted to strip his client from the family trust that owned the Los Angeles Clippers after the head of the NBA said she couldn’t negotiate a sale of the franchise unless she owned all the shares.

    July 28, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • Steelers’ Wheaton eyeing chance after tough rookie year

    Markus Wheaton realizes the pressure is there, but he doesn’t mind.

    July 28, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos