Week In Review
This team is it’s own worst enemy.
That was my exact thought as I was watching the monumental implosion in the 2nd half of the game against Oklahoma. The first half couldn’t have gone much better. The first half saw Terry Henderson break the game wide open, scoring 18 points, including 5 three pointers, in the final 10 minutes to give the Mountaineers a 35 – 29 lead at the half. The first half also saw some overall good defense from the Mountaineers. We came out strong early in the second half and ran the lead up to 12. Then it happened- the second half letdown that has become the trademark of our season so far.
Terrible defense combined with terrible offense combined for our downfall. On defense, we left shooters wide open on the wings to unnecessarily bring a third man to help in the paint to help. When help was needed, it wasn’t there and we allowed easy layups. On offense, we took terrible shot after terrible shot (Gary Browne’s defensive prowess was overshadowed by his poor decisions on offense in this game). This was a horrible loss. We got dominated inside and made terrible decisions down the stretch. I forget who it was, but one of the players admitted in the post game that the team just quits playing when they get a double digit lead. No reason for it, no excuses for it. There were two bright spots in the game though: Jabarie Hinds recorded his best performance of the year, recording 11 points in 27 minutes of mostly solid play, and the previously mentioned performance of Terry Henderson (21 points, 18 of which came in the final 10 minutes of the first half).
Following the Oklahoma game, we found ourselves with a 7-6 record heading into our first Big 12 road contest against Texas. This game was UGLY. Neither team had much of an offense (WVU shot only 30.6% from the field, with Texas only slightly better at 34.5%). WVU looked doomed from the start. Huggins started Rutledge and Noreen in place of Kilicli and Murray because he was not pleased with their performance and hustle down the stretch against Oklahoma. He was trying to send a message to his team from the start. Based on the first 3/4 of this game, it didn’t seem like the team had gotten the message. We had no offense, and some of the people on the court were making the same mistakes they’ve made all year (such as Kilicli putting the ball on the floor instead of going to the rim strong). It was so bad I was about ready to throw in the towel on this season.
Something happened though. WVU finally started to stretch together some good possessions on both sides of the ball, and the score inched closer. We had the deficit down to 8 with about 4 minutes to go, and Henderson popped open for a wide open three pointer (WVU had yet to make a three pointer in the game). It was coming together- Henderson would nail the 3, get us to within 5, and we’d have all the momentum. Just like it was a sign that this just wasn’t our year, the ball slipped from his hands was turned over and scored by Texas to extend the lead to 9. That seemed like the nail in the coffin. But on the next possession, Noreen hit an absolutely huge three to get some momentum back. WVU played good defense down the stretch and even took the lead on a nice three pointer from Eron Harris with 20 seconds on the clock before giving up a game tying three with just seconds left.
Overtime was frustrating. No one on either side could make a shot to save their life, free throws included, but we got offensive rebounds and battled hard. We possessed the ball for almost two full minutes at one point without scoring. However, some big free throws from Gary Browne and Aaric Murray, and a great save on a ball going out of bounds by Dominque Rutledge, gave us the victory A big comeback win like this could be just the thing that turns the season around. We need to string together some big wins to get ourselves back in the discussion for the NCAA tournament, and this was a great start.
“This is not his team, it’s mine. He’s going to do what I tell him to do.” Bob Huggins on Juwan Staten being benched in the second half against Texas
This team still has a lot of problems though. We cannot shoot the ball consistently. Our big guys get into foul trouble often. Players don’t do what Huggins wants them to do. The most concerning thing was Huggins benching of Juwan Staten in the second half. After the game, Huggins said “This is not his team, it’s mine. He’s going to do what I tell him to do. He thought he had a better idea than I did. Whether he did or didn’t doesn’t matter, he’s going to do what i tell him to do, [or he's] not going to play.” Simply put, we cannot win consistently without Staten in the game. Hopefully he responds to the benching the right way and comes back with a strong performance against Kansas State.
Player of the Week: Jabarie Hinds: 22 points, 3 assists, 3 steals in 64 minutes.
Hinds is slowly coming out of his slump and has been contributing solid minutes for the Mountaineers. His performance against Texas was key. He ran the offense well with Staten benched in the second half and hit a key three pointer late in regulation to keep WVU in the game.
- Saturday 1/12 vs. #18 Kansas State
- Wednesday 1/16 @ Iowa State
Kansas State is a great team and will be a big challenge for the Mountaineers. A 31% field goal percentage isn’t going to cut it on Saturday, so let’s hope we shoot the ball better. We really need this game. Our tournament resume is pretty thin right now, but a win over Kansas State would put a marquee win on it and give us a lot of momentum. It’s not difficult to imagine a win over Kansas State following the big comeback against Texas springing us to a nice winning streak.
Iowa State will be a tough challenge as well. They just took Kansas to overtime and always give Big 12 foes trouble. This is another game we really need though. We can’t afford many more losses to unranked teams. Hopefully a solid performance against KState gets us on a roll and we don’t get caught up in Ames.
News and Notes (and a rant)
- With all of the foul trouble our bigs were in against Texas, I’m perplexed as to why Gerun didn’t get any playing time. He’s a tall guy and supposedly one of our best shooters, why not get him on the floor?
- Ditto for Matt Humphrey and Aaron Brown. Aaron Brown was our leading 3 point shooter last year. Matt Humphrey has been a good shooter in his career. Why aren’t they getting any playing time?
- Is it just me, or is the quality of officiating worse than it’s ever been? I thought the switch to the Big 12 and Tim Higgin’s retirement would bring better officiating, but that hasn’t been the case so far. I’m not blaming any of our losses on the refs, we create our own problems and losses, but the officials just seem to miss so many obvious calls. For example, in the waning minutes of regulation, a Texas forward blatantly pushed Noreen out of the way under the hoop then proceeded to get the ball for an easy layup. No call. With just over a minute in the game, the ball clearly goes off a Texas defender and out of bounds, and the refs give the ball to Texas. Henderson appeared to get fouled on multiple three point attempts. No call. Officials are blowing their whistles and calling a foul before the foul actually occurs. The bad calls go both ways. It’s ridiculous and it is hurting the integrity of the game. It amazes me that that NCAA regulates every minute detail of certain aspects of the game, but largely stay out of officiating. It’s time for someone to step in and do something to improve the quality and consistency of the officiating. It’s embarrassing for major college basketball teams to be playing with these terrible officials.