The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 13, 2012

Michigan matchup has lost luster

MORGANTOWN — It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., was a new arena open for business, home to the Nets, looking for attractions.

They decided to put a college basketball doubleheader in there, a neat attraction that would match two of the game’s better coaches in John Beilein and Bob Huggins, two of the better teams in Michigan and West Virginia University, and as a bonus it marked Beilein’s first meeting with his former team since he left for Michigan.

Seemed like it would be good TV, fun and an interesting national matchup.

Who knew that it would end up in almost a life-and-death game for West Virginia when the teams play at 8 p.m. this Saturday? Who knew WVU would be coming off a loss at Duquesne, a loss in which it blew a 15-point lead, a loss in which the Mountaineers’ inability to hit shots would again be exposed?

“I don’t think it was ever scheduled to be fun,” Huggins said when it was brought up to him. “I mean, obviously we thought we were going to be better at this time than what we’ve been. I think everyone thought it would be a marquee national game. We haven’t upheld our end of the bargain, so to speak.”

The losses haven’t been against lesser teams, at least until the dismal performance on Tuesday night in losing to the Dukes, 60-56. They lost to Gonzaga, Davidson and Oklahoma before that. They are losses nonetheless, and they have put the Mountaineers in a difficult situation.

“They’re all important to us now. We’re sitting here with four losses in eight games,” Huggins said. “Every game becomes important and every game becomes critical to us if we want to continue to play in the NCAA Tournament.”

Whether or not this was an NCAA team wasn’t being questioned when the season started, as Huggins seemed to have made moves to correct the problems of a year ago.

But, it appears, everyone underestimated losing Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant, for there is no outside shooting, and improving on a 19-win season might not be as easy as it appeared.

“It seems like right now we are having the same season we had last year, and we said since the beginning of the season this wasn’t going to happen,” said guard Gary Browne, who has been one of the better performers this season but like everyone else has had trouble shooting.

The most frustrated of the Mountaineers, though, is big man Deniz Kilicli, who finds himself facing double and triple teams each game because no one is taking the pressure off him by making outside shots.

It is so bad that guards, including all their layups and breakaways, are shooting just 34.1 percent and incredibly inept 26.4 percent from 3-point range.

As a team they are shooting 39.0 percent, down from the 43.8 percent of a year ago that was criticized.

Not one of the guards is shooting 40 percent, Staten tops at 39.7 percent, and Aaron Brown coming in with just two baskets in 18 tries for 11.1 percent.

The result is the frustration Kilicli is feeling.

“The last two games, you guys saw it, they put everybody in the paint. I’m not the only one seeing it, am I? Those guys watch film, too,” he said. “They are going to keep putting everyone under the basket. We have to make those shots.”

And what makes it so frustrating is that because they are packing defenses in, the shots they are missing are mostly uncontested.

“These are not the shots those guys can’t make. They can make those shots. They worked and worked on it all summer,” Kilicli continued. “Before the season I told you guys about this. We have to make shots. Apparently we can’t now.”

Huggins has sworn he will fix the problems and takes the blame.

“Here’s what I’ve always been able to get through to guys that I haven’t been able to get through to these guys yet,” he said. “The good players I’ve had (over the years) stay after practice every day. I can’t make them stay. We have a time limit during school. Our good guys have stayed. I’m talking about the Joe Alexanders, the Da’Sean Butlers, the Kevin Joneses. They stay every day.

“We have a guy who will stay one day and think it’s fixed or two days and think it’s fixed.”

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

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos