Week In Review
WVU continued to roll Saturday at TCU, notching it’s third win in a row in Coach Huggins’ 1,000th game. Despite this game being against a weak opponent, I’m cautiously optimistic about how the Mountaineers are playing right now. For the first time all season, we are consistently running the offense and having some success shooting the ball while continuing to play good defense. For the game, WVU shot 51% from the field including 70% on three pointers (largely thanks to freshmen Terry Henderson and Eron Harris) while holding TCU 36% and 21%. Eron Harris has stepped up to be the focal point of the offense and has diversified his game. He not rains threes down but is now driving to the basket and drawing fouls. Kilicli has turned his season around with three straight solid performances, and Jabarie Hinds has settled into the point guard role and has been a steady hand to guide the Mountaineer offense. Hopefully our improved offensive play continues as we go back into a tough stretch of the schedule. I’ll say it again though, the officials were not good in this game. They were inconsistent, missed obvious calls.. you know how it goes. Fortunately in this game, it didn’t hurt us too bad.
The real key to the TCU game was defense though. TCU stayed with us throughout the first half, finding openings in our man defense for good shots, which they made at a 60% clip. However, in the second half, Huggins’s switch to what appeared to be a 2-3 zone defense, which completely stymied the TCU offensive attack (25% shooting in the 2nd half). We might have the most diverse set of defenses in the country available to us- we have now used the man, 1-3-1 zone, 2-3 zone, and point-drop defense this year. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what having a hall-of-fame, 700+ win coach gets you- he has an extensive bag of tricks and knows what moves to make at what time.
Unfortunately though, he didn’t have enough tricks to pull out a win against Baylor. This game was a lot closer than the score indicated. We kept it close until it started to get out of hand late, with Baylor’s lead usually running up to 7 before we closed it to 2. Turnovers killed us in this game (we lost that battle 18-9), and we got out shot again. No one on the team played particularly well, especially in the second half. We kept allowing one of the best three point shooters in the Big 12, Brady Heslip, to get open for 3′s, particularly in the second half, and he killed us by draining 6 of them. We quit running an offense in the second half too. Once Baylor got the lead to double digits, it seemed like we just quit playing.
“We don’t pass the ball, we throw the ball. We got guys open every where…. its sickening for me to watch. It’s not basketball… we play like guys who’ve never played and goto the YMCA and think they’re superstars.” – Coach Huggins on the performance against Baylor
Coach Huggins, needless to say, was not happy after the game. We also were hurt by our bigs getting into foul trouble early. Aaric Murray wasn’t able to contribute at all, as he got 2 fouls early in the first half, a third foul right after being put back in towards the end of the first half, and a 4th foul within a few seconds of being inserted in the second half. Noreen also was in foul trouble in addition to Gary Browne.
And let me say it again- the officials in this game were AWFUL. There was a really key point early in the second half where we had a chance to gain control of the game, but the whistles kept it away from us. I’m not saying that we didn’t do plenty of things to kill ourselves, but they sure didn’t help. Let’s run it down:
- Baylor double dribbled the ball obviously at least 4 times, and the ESPN announcers even commented on it once or twice, but there were no calls. This lead to points for Baylor.
- We got called for moving screens a few times, but when Baylor did the exact same thing, it was only called once.
- The announcers commented on how officials were “anticipating” us committing a foul, and blowing the whistle before one actually occurred, based on our reputation. This has happened all season.
- They called 6 fouls on us in the first 5 minutes of the second half, compared to 2 on Baylor. Let me assure you- Baylor committed just as many as we did.
- Baylor players routinely got away with making plays that Murray was called for a foul on.
- The foul that resulted in Kilicli getting T’ed up? He didn’t commit a foul. No wonder he was upset.
- They appeared to call us for a 5 second violation after the ball had been inbounded.
“You know what, for whatever’s its worth, it’d be nice if there was some consistency from game to game [with officiating]. It’d help… You go from, like the Texas game it was very physical, to… If you can’t stand there with your hands up, I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. They say scoring is low, so we need freedom of movement. Nobody wants to watch someone shoot 80 free throws… oh well.” - Coach Huggins on the officiating in the Baylor game.
Sometimes I have to wonder, is this part of the entrance fee to the Big 12? Since we only get 50% of the TV money this year, does that mean we only get 50% of the calls that we should get? Huggins was not happy with the officials either. Jay and Tony didn’t sound too thrilled in the post game talk with Huggins. It’s just a bad problem that needs to be fixed.
On another note, I think I’ve identified the player that will dog us every time we play him and it will seem like he will never graduate. You know the type I’m talking about. In the Big East, it was Steve McNamara and Eric Devendorf for Syracuse. In the Big 12, the first one is going to be Baylor’s freshman forward Rico Gathers. He has talent, but he’s arrogant and annoying to watch. And we get to see him at least 7 more times if he makes it to his senior season.
Player of the Week: Eron Harris: 33 points, 5-8 3 Pt FG in 57 minutes
Harris is the only player consistently able to make shots and consistently scoring points for us. We need him to put up 15-20 points every night if we are going to have a chance. He makes me very hopeful for our future though. He seems like the type of player you can build a team around.
Coming Up Next Week
- Saturday 2/16 vs. Texas Tech
- Monday 2/18 @ Kansas State
Not much to say here. We’ve seen both of these teams. We already beat Texas Tech, we should have beaten Kansas State. We need 2 W’s, however we can get them.
News and Notes
- Coach Huggins is once again competing in the ESPN Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge. The first round is open until Feb 27, and you can vote here. Check out Coach Huggins’ hilarious commercial for the Infiniti Challenge too.
- Does ESPN hate us? For some reason, they broke away from the final minute and a half of WVU-Baylor to show the finish of top 200 teams Texas and Iowa State. Really? I can’t imagine the casual basketball fan was watching Baylor-WVU over UNC-Duke Wednesday night, so it’s safe to assume that if you were watching WVU-Baylor, you really cared about one of those schools and didn’t care so much about seeing the multiple endings of the Texas-Iowa State game. I guess the people that swear ESPN hates WVU have another point for their argument.