The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

January 9, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs someone to step up game

MORGANTOWN — We exist in an era where technology has taken over all aspects of our life, from the way we cook to the way we clean to the way we enjoy our entertainment and information. Each day more and more mysteries are swallowed up in another program, which answers age-old questions thought to be unanswerable.

In a way, because of the way this is doing away with the mysteries of life, it is almost refreshing to see Bob Huggins’ West Virginia University basketball team’s struggling games and not need to delve into either a statistical analysis or a complete breakdown of their physical approach.

Hardly.

In fact, there’s not a bit of mystery to what has sent his Mountaineers off on a 7-6 start overall with a defeat to Oklahoma at home in WVU’s opening Big 12 game as it heads to play its first conference road game at Texas at 9 p.m. today. It will be televised on ESPN2.

Ask him what he needs to do to turn the team around and he doesn’t pull up any print outs, doesn’t look toward any computer analysis. No, not all.

What is the answer?

“At risk of sounding simplistic it would be nice if we made a shot every once in a while,” he said.

See, in basketball, the game comes down to this. Free throws are worth one point, baskets are worth two, and 3-point shots, not surprisingly, are worth three points.

The team that is able to compile the most points by putting the ball in the basket wins the game, and you are at a distinct disadvantage if you have trouble doing that.

“We haven’t shot very well, and we haven’t guarded as well as we normally guard,” Huggins said, that being about as deep as he wanted to get into this analysis stuff.

See, he’s doing things just as he did while winning 717 games. And he’s been through the routine of having a team not making shots.

“We’ve always missed shots. Oklahoma missed shots,” he said, referring to the team that beat the Mountaineers on Saturday. “They rebounded it. When you don’t make shots you have to find a way to score. We’ve always been proficient at scoring off the offensive glass.”

Certainly there were opportunities to score off the offensive glass. They saw to that by shooting 30 percent for the game.

As a way of comparison, last year’s team — which wasn’t particularly good — shot 43.8 percent from the field.

“We missed 11 shots inside three feet,” Huggins pointed out.

That’s point blank. And it’s not by a grade school team where the basket seems to be hung atop Mount Everest. It’s misses by players from 6-3 to 6-9.

True, there is a defense there and Huggins understands that.

“I love Oklahoma’s bigs, but they’re not shot blockiers,” Huggins said. “They make shots, but they aren’t like the players we’ll face the next few games that are going to block shots.”

The result was WVU was outscored 30-10 in the paint.

“That just hasn’t happened,” Huggins said.

And that it happened is an indictment in many areas … toughness, shooting, defense.

Naturally the fact that all these things that almost never happen with WVU are happening all at once make you wonder if this team is built to play the way a Bob Huggins team normally does play.

Huggins’ answer when asked about this isn’t quite so straightforward as the answer about an inability to shoot.

“We’ve always had seniors step up,” he noted. “We lost Joe Alexander, well, Da’Sean Butler stepped up. Then when he left Kevin Jones stepped up,” Huggins said. “We haven’t had anyone step up.”

That can be read only that Deniz Kilicli, who was supposed to be the senior block upon which this team was built, hasn’t grabbed hold of his senior season and willed it in the right direction.

In fact, Kilicli is averaging just 7.5 points a game and 4.8 rebounds a game while shooting 39.1 percent compared to 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 50.1 percent last season.

Huggins is mulling over any number of changes, including going small, possibly with four guards.

“The only thing we can do is go back to the drawing board,’’ point guard Juwan Staten said.

And that’s what Huggins is considering. The inside game has got just too many faults at present.

For example, against Oklahoma the bigs scored two points in the paint in 80 minutes of play.

“Kevin Noreen isn’t going to score it in there,” Huggins said. “He just doesn’t have the lift to get over people. You never know what Dom’s (Rutledge) going to do with it in there. Deniz (Kilicli) has not scored it. Aaric Murray, if he can’t reach over you, he’s not going to score.

“I don’t know, what do you do? You sit here and think maybe we play smaller and maybe those guys can make a shot and we can spread people out a little bit and we can drive it and get to the foul line a  little bit more.”

Any way he does it, it will be a departure from what he wants to do but in the end you are what you are and you have to make do.

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

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • 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

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    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.

    July 25, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.

    July 25, 2014

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