By Cliff Nichols
Times West Virginian
Bob Huggins has seldom showed more disappointment than he did following his West Virginia University basketball team’s 79-52 loss at Purdue last Saturday.
Kevin Noreen, WVU’s 6-10 forward from Minnesota, understands what’s in the coach’s mind as Noreen goes through his third year in the program.
“He really wasn’t in our faces yelling,” Noreen said Tuesday as the Mountaineers prepared to host TCU at 7:30 tonight. “He was ashamed at how we played. Embarrassed. I feel sorry for him, but I can’t blame him. We have to play better.”
The team was just as disappointed, Noreen said.
“This is not the way we’re accustomed to playing,” Noreen said. “It’s not Coach Huggins’ style. That’s not our style. What you saw is not indicative of anything we want to be. We need to change it fast.”
What’s the solution as WVU attempts to end a three-game losing streak and even its record at 9-9?
“We have to have better walk-throughs on the day of the game,” Noreen said. “Practices the day before a game also need to be enthusiastic and full of energy.”
Noreen is playing plenty of minutes as the big man when Huggins uses four smaller players in the lineup.
He’s impressed the coach with his rebounding ability.
Noreen, who scored 4,086 career points in high school, had 10 rebounds at Iowa State, 13 at Texas and 14 at home against Virginia Tech.
“You can’t say that about any of those other (big) guys,” Huggins noted.
Noreen knows that TCU uses its offense to slow down the opponent. The Horned Frogs score an average of 54.8 points per game and give up 56.4.
“They use the shot clock. They run their sets. They don’t give the opponent many opportunities on the offensive end,” he said. “So it’s a situation where they’ll basically hold the ball and move it around and take as much time off the shot clock as they can. Essentially, they do what they have to do to win. That’s what their strategy is.”
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Volodymyr Gerun, WVU’s 6-10 forward from the Ukraine, played 12 minutes in last Saturday’s loss at Purdue and did not score. He was 0-for-5 from the floor, had two rebounds and blocked two shots.
Aaron Brown, 6-5 sophomore guard, also played after a long drought and scored seven points in 11 minutes.
Huggins said the players, not the coach, determine playing time.
“A.B. hadn’t played in quite a while, and I think he proved in practice that he deserved to play, so we played him,” Huggins said. “I’m not a proponent of giving guys things just to give it to them. That’s totally up to him. We gave him an opportunity.
“I don’t think there is anybody who can honestly say they haven’t had opportunities.”
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WVU has only one double-figure scorer in guard Juwan Staten, with a 10.1 average. He’s followed by Aaric Murray (9.6) and Terry Henderson (8.5).
In Big 12 games, Jabarie Hinds is the leader at 14.3, followed by Henderson (11.0).
Email Cliff Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.