Welcome to HailWV’s newest column: the Huggstown Weekly Roundup (name subject to change; if you have a better one, leave it in the comments!). I’ll be providing a recap of the past week in Men’s Basketball and a preview of the upcoming week every Thursday or Friday. This week’s column is a bit early.
Week In Review
Huggy Bear and the boys had a rough week in Orlando, dropping close games to Davidson (63-60) and Oklahoma (77-70) after blowing out Marist (87-44) in the tournament opener. There were a lot of things to like in the Marist game, but I’m not sure how much you can take away from a game against such a weak opponent. The games against Davidson and Oklahoma were much more telling though. Both were close games. Both were games WVU had plenty of chances to win.
WVU jumped out to an early lead against Davidson, up by as many as 8 points in the first half, and took a 2 point lead into halftime. Davidson started the second half on an 11-2 run and eventually stretched the lead to 11 before WVU stormed back and got to within a point with 13 seconds left on the clock. Even though we didn’t pull out the win, you have to love the fight the team showed. Despite being down double digits in the second half, they fought back and had a chance to tie it as time expired (Staten missed a 3). This is despite being outshot 49%-40% and shooting only 47% (8-17) from the charity stripe. If we could have shot 60% from the line, we win the game.
The game against Oklahoma followed a similar trend- we jumped to an early lead and then surrendered it. This time, we were able to tie the game up with 7 minutes remaining but just couldn’t catch a break after that. Again though, I like the way the team fought back and stayed in the game. We were outshot again 47% – 36%, but this time around our free throw shooting kept us in the game, we were 71% (24-34) from the line.
It’s really easy to see where our big problem is right now- we aren’t shooting well. The players definitely picked up the intensity on defense after Huggins took away their WVU practice gear, but they’re still trying to find their way on offense. Gary Browne had a couple of good games and looks like he’ll be a spark off the bench, and freshman Terry Henderson has shown signs that he will be a major contributor this season as well. We just need to develop some consistency. I think that as the new guys start to get more comfortable in the offense, the flow and rhythm will improve and that will lead to better shooting. I’ve been really impressed with the transition offense though. They push the ball down the court and create fast break opportunities, which is something we haven’t had consistently for a while.
As I have been saying all season, we’ll struggle early but be really good by the time conference play rolls around. Right now, we’re losing these close games and are just coming up one or two plays short, but as the team gets more comfortable with each other and a little more experience, we’ll start winning these games. The tough schedule early will pay huge dividends later. Huggs knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to prove once again why he’s the best in the business.
Player of the week: Juwan Staten: 36 points, 7 steals in 3 games. Staten is living up to the hype. He’s the first real point guard we’ve had in a while.
Coming up in the next week:
- Wednesday 11/28: Home against VMI
- Wednesday 12/5: Capital Classic against Marshall in Charleston
VMI is currently 3-3 with wins over Central Pennsylvania, Old Dominion, and Elon and losses to The Citadel, Army, and Virginia Tech. VMI is averaging 85 points per game and are led by 6’6″ senior forward Stan Okoye, who is averaging 21 points per game. In VMI’s last game against Elon, Okoye turned in 30 points and 16 rebounds. WVU’s size should hold Okoye in check, but VMI will definitely test WVU’s defense. WVU should win this game with its size and depth, but VMI could sneak a win out if we let our guard down.
One week later is the annual trek to Charleston to play Marshall. I hate this game. We never shoot well in the Charleston Civic Center, and it doesn’t matter how good we are or how bad Marshall is, they always give us fits. I wish we’d just drop Marshall altogether, or at least start rotating the game between Morgantown, Huntington, and Charleston. But I digress. The Thundering Herd is also 3-3 with wins over Longwood, District of Columbia, and Nevada with losses to Villanova, San Diego St, and Hofstra. Marshall also has games against Morehead State and UNC-Wilmington before the Capitol Classic. I could rattle off the other stats, but it honestly doesn’t matter. It’s WVU vs. Marshall- anything can and probably will happen in Charleston.
News and Notes:
- Aaric Murray didn’t play the first half against Marist. Sounds like he was in Huggins’ doghouse, but must have gotten out- he got the start against Davidson and Oklahoma.
- Ditto for Dominque Rutledge, who didn’t play at all against Marist or Davidson, but did see 14 minutes against Oklahoma.