Week In Review
”I’m sick of it. I’m sick of watching guys stand around. I’m sick of watching guys not compete. I’m sick of watching guys missing shot after shot and then never coming early, never staying late. They don’t think about coming in on an off day. I’ve never had guys like this before. I want some guys that care. If we get some guys that care, we have a great coaching staff that will coach them up. My issue is we haven’t been my team. We haven’t competed.” Coach Bob Huggins spoke those words after the loss to then #3 Michigan in New York last Saturday night.
Huggs is never happy after a loss, but you don’t hear this level of disgust from him often. This came after an 81 – 66 loss in a game against the Wolverines which saw an odd lineup employed by the Mountianeers. Senior Deniz Kilicli only saw 9 minutes of playing time, sophomore guard Jabarie Hinds only 8, and junior transfer Aaric Murray didn’t even make the trip (he was apparently suspended after missing weight lifting). However, despite how bad all of this sounds, the game was much closer than the final score indicates and we had chances to win.
We started off the game very slow and dug ourselves into a whole. Michigan went up 19-4 early and their lead swelled to as many as 18 points at one point. The Mountaineers chipped away at the lead though and got it down to seven with 4 minutes to play. Following that, we had numerous chances to make shots and get to within a possession, but we just couldn’t finish the plays. WVU was lead by freshman guard Terry Henderson, who scored 23 points in 36 minutes. Henderson shot 50% from the field, including 3-9 from 3, and went 6-6 from the line. Juwan Staten and Eron Harris also scored in double digits and put in solid performances. Our shooting woes continued as we only shot 38% for the game and a miserable 26% from beyond the arc. Michigan shot 56% overall and 33% beyond the arc. Once again, our inability to make shots killed us.
Following that debacle, the Mountaineers faced Oakland at home. Let me start it off by saying that this was the most God-awful officiating I have witnessed in a long time. Maybe ever. By halftime, I actually would have preferred Tim Higgins to the fools they had for this game (if you don’t know who Tim Higgins is, you either don’t watch much basketball, or you don’t pay attention). The bad calls went both ways. It was just bad.
Anyhow, this game ended up being pretty close. We trailed most of the first half and took the lead for most of the second. We shot the ball well and got some really good performances from Aaric Murray (12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4 assists), Keaton Miles (10 points, including a couple of key three pointers, and solid defense), and Juwan Staten (11 points, 5 assists, 3 steals). It was good to see Murray bounce back from the suspension with his best performance of the year. And it was nice to see a good shooting performance for once- 53% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc. Oakland stayed in the game on the three point shooting of Travis Bader, who went 6-12 beyond the arc and scored 25 points. On the game, Oakland was 53% beyond the arc but only 40% overall. The final ended up 76-71, closer than it needed to be, but we just needed a win.
One thing I absolutely loved from this game was apparent 2-1-2 trap defense Huggins brought out in the second half. We caused some turnovers and got some easy buckets off of this defense and generally interfered with Oakland’s offense. I think it is definitely something we will see more of this season. I still think we need to get better at sustaining the pressure though and just being more consistent overall. It seems like we play hard for 5 minutes than take a few plays off. Gotta stop that. Also, we have to finish more. A 2 on 1 fast break should always result in a bucket, but we end up turning it over on those.
After Huggins ripped the effort of the team apart in his post game comments following the Michigan game, I really hoped to see the players adopt a new attitude. It appears they did. Kilicli showed up to practice 75 minutes early on Tuesday and worked on his inside game with student managers (it unfortunately did not help him against Oakland). It also sounds like others showed up early in an attempt to show Huggins that they care. It definitely seemed like we played with more heart against Oakland. Hopefully this renewed effort continues.
Player Of The Week: Terry Henderson. 33 points, 3 steals
There really wasn’t any single player that had a great two game performance, but the best single game performance was Henderson’s against Michigan. He followed that up with a solid performance against Oakland, which made him my pick for POTW. Henderson is looking to be one of our top scoring threats moving forward.
Coming Up Next week
- Saturday 12/22 vs. Radford in Morgantown
In the final game before Christmas, the Mountaineers take on the Radford Highlanders at home on Saturday before taking a week off. Radford comes into the game 5-6. The only noteworth games they’ve played are a 79-67 loss to Wake Forest to open the year and a 68 – 52 loss to Charlotte on Wednesday night. Radford is averaging 69 points per game and shooting 42.5% (both numbers better than us, unfortunately). They are led by sophomore guards Javonte Green, who is averaging 13.8 points per game, and RJ Price, who is averaging 13.1 points per game. The Highlanders also feature Kevin Noreen’s brother Kyle, who is averaging 4.4 points per game. This shouldn’t be a game- our talent is superior, but as we saw against Duquesne, anything can happen. This would be a really bad loss on our record- honestly, hard to see us making the tournament if we lose this game at home, so hopefully we take care of business and go into Christmas on a high note.
News and Notes
- Deniz Kilicli only played 9 minutes in each of the games this week. He is struggling mightily and seems to have lost his playing time to Murray, Miles, and Rutledge.
- Kevin Noreen was also limited this week, recording only 18 minutes total as well.
- Gerun made appearances in both games, recording 2 points in 8 minutes against Michigan and 2 points in 2 minutes against Oakland. You would expect his minutes to go up with Kilicli and Noreen seeing less playing time.