The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 14, 2013

WVU set to square off with Marshall

MORGANTOWN — This time there’s a whole lot more at stake for West Virginia University’s men’s basketball team than state pride when it faces downstate rival Marshall in the Capitol Classic.

Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. with the game being aired on WBOY-TV.

West Virginia has played something of a killer schedule of late with a young team and dropped a pair of difficult decisions to Missouri on the road and Gonzaga at home, leaving them looking at a 6-5 record as they take the floor against a 4-5 Marshall team coming off a 90-77 loss to Penn State.

WVU coach Bob Huggins knows that this will not be an easy game. None of them really are against Marshall, 11 of the last 15 being decided by single digits even though WVU owns victories in 13 of the last 17 and six of the last seven.

“Marshall is good. They are talented. They are probably as athletic as anybody we’ve played other than Missouri,” Huggins said, offering high praise with that remark. “Cheich Sane is really good. Elijah Pittman makes plays. Pittman made some catches you don’t see anybody but NBA guys make.”

Pittman is averaging 21.4 points a game for Marshall, even better than the 19.3 average Eron Harris brings into the game for the Mountaineers.

The setup for the game is not a good one for WVU.

“It’s a hard game sometimes when we’ve just played Gonzaga and we’re getting ready to play Purdue. It’s hard for those guys, especially young guys,” Huggins said.

Adding to the problem is the distraction of it being finals week with the Christmas break lying ahead.

In both the Missouri and Gonzaga games WVU showed itself capable of competing with nationally ranked teams and against both Missouri and Wisconsin it showed a grit to fight back from large deficits that it hadn’t shown last year.

WVU is improving, and Huggins is not afraid to say so.

“Obviously, we’re a lot closer. We’re going to be good. I said this in the beginning of the year. We can be good. It’s just our margin for error is not big,” he said. “So, we can’t take plays off; we can’t not run back down the floor. There’s going to be some things we can’t control, but the things we can control we will have to control them.

“We’re getting closer. We’re not there. We’re not close to being there yet.”

The players understand this, especially the older ones who say you have to throw out the won-lost record in evaluating the team at present.

“It’s not a fair indication,” junior forward Kevin Noreen said. “I don’t know what the numbers were last year, but I’m sure the scoring differential in some of the losses was a lot greater than what it has been this year. Some of the losses we had last year, we kind of gave up. I don’t think you’ve seen this team give up yet.

“We’re getting there, but we’ve got to get a lot better.”

And, they have to start winning games like this Marshall game, which always is a physical war, the kind you get in in-state rivalry matchups.

“First of all, they referee like it’s Cincinnati-Xavier, and it’s not,” said Huggins, who believes the Cincinnati-Xavier rivalry in which he used to coach is among the most intense in the nation. “It’s not close, but they come out and call 75 fouls.”

In the last six games, 286 fouls have been called, an average of 47.7 per game, while there have been 325 free throws, an average of 54.2.

As usual, WVU will be looking to Harris and Juwan Staten to lead them. Harris is coming off a 23-point game against Gonzaga, but it was really disappointing in that he scored 18 points in the first half and then managed to get off only five shots in the second half.

Staten has run the team from the point and been its emotional leader, averaging 16.4 points a game while dishing off 68 assists with just 14 turnovers.

Huggins moved Terry Henderson into the starting lineup in place of Nathan Adrian in the Gonzaga game and he responded with15 points and now has three consecutive games of 16, 14 and 15 points and can be expected to start again, although Huggins says he will look at matchups in determining who starts.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

 

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • 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

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