West Virginia Baksetball: Ineffective press, turnovers costing Mountaineers


For the first time all season, West Virginia has suffered two consecutive losses after falling to both Oklahoma and Baylor in blowout-fashion.

The Mountaineers have implemented the full-court press all season long and throughout the majority of the games played, the press has been a major part of the team’s success.

The press, however, is such a large part of West Virginia’s success that when it isn’t working the team suffers.

Against Oklahoma and Baylor, both team where able to break West Virginia’s press more often then not and the result yielded two double-digit losses.

The Bears went 28-51 (54 percent) from the floor and 6-15 (40 percent) from beyond the arc while Oklahoma went 27-44 (61.4 percent) from the floor and 6-11 (54.5 percent) from three-point land.

Feb 7, 2015; Morgantown, WV, USA; Baylor Bears forward Rico Gathers (2) dunks the ball in the first half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at WVU Coliseum. Baylor won 87-69. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

“Baylor shot a high percentage because of the way we were playing,” said head coach Bob Huggins following the loss to Baylor. “I’ve said this from the beginning. We have to turn people over, but we can’t turn it over. They shot a high percentage because of the way we played.”

The Mountaineers’ rely heavily on their pressure to create turnovers and find points off of them. West Virginia, on average, is forcing opponents to turn the ball over 21.7 times per contest. Even in its loss to Baylor, the Mountaineers scored 27 points off their generated turnovers while Baylor only scored 13 points of theirs.

But, West Virginia’s press allows teams to sometimes pickup easy layups and find wide open shots. Baylor found a plethora of wide open shots and hit what seemed like all of them.

Another thing West Virginia’s press does is wear down opponents, something Huggins has been preaching all season long to his team.

“I firmly believe and I thought our guys were buying in more and more, is the cumulative effect,” said Huggins. “Guys aren’t going to make shots at the end that they make early. They’re going to make some shots early. Maybe not that many, but they’re going to make shots. Cumulative effect is you wear them down.”

“Our ten is better than they’re ten. Our five isn’t better than a lot of people we’re playing. We haven’t chased guys down from behind which we were doing a bunch early.”

Not only has the Mountaineers’ press been ineffective in these last games, but West Virginia has been turning the ball over as well.

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“I think turnovers were 19-16 (versus Baylor),” said Huggins. “When we win they’re 19-8 or something. That’s 14 more shots we would get.”

West Virginia surrendered the basketball 15 times against Oklahoma, another high turnover rate for a team that usually doesn’t give the ball away.

Despite the turnovers, Huggins believes his team will be just fine moving forward.

“We’re going to be alright. We’ve been trying to fix the turnovers. Think about they teams in the sweet sixteen and final four,” Huggins said referencing some of his previous teams. “They didn’t turn the ball over.”

Perhaps it’s the youth catching up to Huggins’ team and the fast start is quietly fading. Maybe team’s are beginning to catch on to West Virginia’s pressure? Whatever the case may be, the press hasn’t been a factor in these last two outings and it’s shown on the scoreboard.