WVU basketball: Konate will be key in conference slate

SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 23: Sagaba Konate
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 23: Sagaba Konate /

The WVU basketball team is usually inconsistent when shooting from long range. Head coach Bob Huggins likes to look inside for more higher-percentage shots.

That’s where big man Sagaba Konate comes in. Over the past year and a half, Konate has shown that he can be one of the best inside players in the Big 12 Conference, maybe even the country.

Well, it’s time for him to step up again in the 2017-18 season because the conference slate looms and it could be the toughest road for the WVU basketball team in quite some time.

Even though Konate appeared in all 37 games for the Mountaineers last season, he started just one. The WVU basketball team had Nathan Adrian and Elijah Macon starring as the top inside threats. Konate certainly raised some eyebrows when he was in games, though, because of his massive size and threat. He may have the most raw potential of any player in the country.

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Now is the time for Konate to harness his energy and leave it all on the court. It’s not to say he doesn’t do that every chance he gets, but Konate has been caught up in some things that distract him from the ultimate goal. Huggins benched Konate during an early season game to help get him focused for the more important games that were to come later in the season. Konate has also been known to throw elbows at opposing players and has been whistled for flagrant fouls a few times already.

But the odds are in Konate’s favor. He will get the ball when he finds good positioning down low. He is so strong that he can get past almost any other player, even with his elbows in check. This season, Konate is averaging 8.2 points per game but it would be even nicer to see that average tick up to double digits. If Konate is scoring more, it will take the pressure off guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, who are both the unheralded leaders of this team.

The WVU basketball team also relies mightily on second-chance opportunities. Konate is the king of offensive rebounds and has 23 this season. He has a total of 74 rebounds, averaging more than six per game. Konate’s time is sometimes limited on the court as he has only played more than 30 minutes once this season.

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Konate is just a few tweaks away from being the most complete big man the WVU basketball team has had in quite some time. By staying focused and getting stronger, he can help the Mountaineers win the Big 12 title.