Chase Harler Sees Positive Changes From WVU’s Players
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–As the Mountaineer men’s basketball team prepares for a three-game foreign tour of Spain, West Virginia senior shooting guard Chase Harler thinks the biggest benefits come before WVU even gets to Europe.
“We get 10 three-hour practices, which is huge, especially this year when we have so many new guys,” said Harler. “They can get a feel for what’s coming during the season. I think that’s really important. It allows us to building some chemistry. With so many news guys, it’s a great opportunity to get to know each other and get to play together.”
Mixing seven returnees with five newcomers is a challenge enough. Ridding the squad of the taste of last year’s 15-21 record is another matter. Harler believes he and his teammates learned some of those tough lessons from the 2018-19 campaign.
“I feel like I’ve got to hold people accountable better this year than last year,” the Moundsville, West Virginia, noted. “I think that was part of our issue last year. I think the guys who were our nucleus the second half of last season have done a great job leading. I think we’re all doing a better job of trying to hold each other accountable.
“I think the most important things is to lead by example,” added the finance major who is a member of the all-Big 12 academic honor roll who averaged 5.4 points per game last season. “If you’re going to call someone out for not working hard enough, then you have to work hard, too. I think we struggled with that last year. People wanted to say things, but maybe they weren’t going as hard as they should have. I think if everyone just takes it upon themselves to go as hard as they can and doing the best they can, then we can hold each other accountable that way.”
Harler and the Mountaineers leave for Spain on Saturday and will play three games against local teams while they’re there – Tuesday, Friday and Sunday – before returning on Aug. 13. Harler played with a college all-star team last summer in China, and said there are some differences Americans have to adjust to when playing overseas, but the major difference for him comes in the form of the most basic piece of equipment.
“The biggest adjustment is the basketball,” he explained of the FIBA-approved, 12-panel ball. “We didn’t practice with it the first day, but we’ve practiced with it since then. The first day we used it, it wasn’t a great shooting performance by our team. The ball feels a little bit plasticy. It’s not so much rubber, but feels sort of like plastic.
“I’m not sure what rules we’re going to use,” Harler continued. “When I went to China, we used a 24-second shot clock. I’m not sure if we’re going be using that. But right now, the ball is the biggest adjustment.”
Harler and all U.S. college players will have to make another adjustment when their season begins in October. The three-point line in Division I is changing this year, moving from the previous distance of 20-feet 9-inches to the new range of 22-feet, 1 ¾ inches, which is the same arc used internationally by FIBA.
“I don’t think it’s really going to affect us too much,” said Harler, who made 38-of-116 three-pointers last season. “They put the lines out there (at WVU’s practice facility) pretty much the day they came out with that (rule change). So, we’ve had those lines down for about a month, and it really doesn’t seem to make a big difference.”
With the new three-point lines on the court, Harler has spent summer sharpening his perimeter skills and all-around game.
“I’m working on a lot of repetition with my shooting,” he said. “I’m also working on my ballhandling. I feel like I did that a little more at the end of last season to try to become more of a playmaker. I’m working on that and just being more vocal.”
As for West Virginia’s newcomers, they’re adapting to Bob Huggins’ style.
“The hardest part of playing for Coach Huggins is learning his defensive principles,” Harler explained. “With the amount of practices they’ve had, they’ve been playing very, very well.”