The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 11, 2014

WVU must play Smart to beat Oklahoma State

MORGANTOWN — From 1965 to 1970, there was a hit television sitcom entitled “Get Smart,” a very funny spoof on the James Bond secret agent rage of the era.

This afternoon at the Coliseum, West Virginia University will stage its own version of “Get Smart,” only there doesn’t figure to be anything funny about it because unlike the villain in TV show KAOS, which went after the fictional hero Maxwell Smart, West Virginia will be chasing down a real-life hero in Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, last year’s Big 12 Player of the Year.

Game time is 4 p.m. and it will be carried on WDTV.

Like Maxwell Smart on the TV show, Marcus Smart is surrounded by a strong cast of supporting players – none quite as good looking at Barbara Feldon was – in his Cowboy teammates who have gotten off to a 13-2 start (1-1 in the Big 12) and carry a No. 11/12 ranking.

WVU is 10-5 and 2-0 in the conference but is hungry for a signature victory, and it can get one against Oklahoma State, although it will be far more challenging than anything Maxwell Smart every undertook in his fictional role.

“They are the most athletic team we have played to this point,” coach Bob Huggins said.

And it is Smart who leads the way.

“Smart is terrific, does so many things for them, but they have lot of guys who are extremely athletic,” Huggins said. “(Kaman) Murphy is a heck of a shot blocker, and they are all so quick to the ball. Smart has made some just eye-popping blocks.”

Then there is Markel Brown.

“He was leading the league in scoring a year ago. He’s right back up there again (averaging 17.1 points a game). He bounces it better than a year ago, and Smart shoots it better than a year ago,” Huggins said.

It is Oklahoma State’s athleticism and speed that worries Huggins.

“You try to keep them out of transition,” he said. “The best way to keep them out of transition is to score. We need to take quick shots, but we need to be selective with our shots. What we can’t do is bang them off the front of the rim. That comes off like an outlet pass, and they are off to the races.”

You don’t want to turn this basketball game into a track meet.

“They lead the league in steals. I don’t think there’s any question they are the fastest team in the league. They transition from one end to the other faster than anybody else,” Huggins said.

That puts a lot of pressure on Juwan Staten, WVU’s star point guard who is coming off a 25-point effort at Texas Tech, to control not only the tempo of the game but to try and protect the basketball, something that won’t be easy.

Staten not only is averaging 16.8 points a game with 6 assists per contest, but he also averages 6.1 rebounds a game and has taken down 6 or more in seven of the last nine games.

Rebounding will be key in this game, and WVU is coming off a game at Texas Tech where it was punished on the boards.

“We have to rebound the ball. When we rebound well, that forces people to send more people to the glass. They can’t leak out as much (and run in transition),” Huggins said.

WVU also could use a hot shooting hand from its leading scorer, Eron Harris. Harris is second the Big 12 at 18.5 points a game and also second in 3-point field goals made with 41, but he is coming off a bad shooting game against Texas Tech, although it’s hard to convince anyone of that since he scored 18 points.

Huggins isn’t worried about it turning into a shooting slump.

“He’s a guy who doesn’t seem to be bothered as much as other people. Missing a shot bothers Terry Henderson more than it does Eron Harris,” Huggins said. “I think a lot of that is guys that can score kind of have that mentality. They figure they miss one, they’ll make the next one. I think Eron is a lot that way.”

WVU will go into the game for the first time knowing that Jonathan Holton will not be available to play this year, the NCAA turning down WVU’s request to allow him to play.

Holton, who transferred to West Virginia from Palm Beach State Community College, will continue to practice with the team. He will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2014-15 season.

“I know Jonathan is disappointed by not being able to compete this season, but he has had a terrific attitude in practice and will use this redshirt season to work on his game and become a better basketball player,” said Huggins.

“We look forward to Jonathan having two full seasons of eligibility remaining.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • WVU takes first step Thursday

    Perhaps the most used – and least factual – cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
     

    July 30, 2014

  • Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
     

    July 30, 2014

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg 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.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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

  • 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

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

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