Contested Shots Key For WVU Game Plan

Contested Shots Key For WVU Game Plan

SAN DIEGO — It’s a term heard routinely when discussing shooting, and the reasons for makes and misses. “We didn’t contest shots,” is a common lament, usually heard from coaches and players on the losing side. But just what makes a contested shot?

For West Virginia and assistant coach Larry Harrison, it’s getting movement from players who are spotted up.

“One thing we want to do is make them bounce it.  We don’t want to allow a catch and shoot,” the veteran assistant said. “It’s a lot easier to shoot those step-in shots than off the bounce. We want them to dribble the ball and not get their feet set. We want them to be conscious that we are coming at them and closing out hard, and make them shoot it a little quicker than they normally do.”

Statistics kept by the team show that those shots where players catch the ball with room to step in and shoot are much more accurate than those that have to reload with a dribble, or have to go up without that step-in. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s big in terms of affecting overall accuracy. It will be crucial against the Herd, which will fire away at every opportunity, and is comfortable shooting against what some teams might consider good pressure.

“We want to make them uncomfortable and not give them any open shots. We want to contest them,” Harrison reinforced.

Forward Lamont West understands the challenges that face WVU. While the Mountaineers are taller and longer, they could have trouble keeping up with Marshall’s pace, but West is placing his confidence in what Harrison and the rest of the coaches are teaching.

“I feel like if we do what the coaches tell us to do, we can win no matter what the style of play is, or however they want to play. If we can run our press, we will be ok.”

Harrison sees some similarities with a pair of Big 12 teams that the Mountaineers have faced a total of five times this season. While certainly not identical, there are aspects in the games of each that WVU can use to help build its defensive game plan.

“They kind of remind me of TCU, the way they pass the ball. Marshall is a really good passing team,” Harrison complimented. “They move the ball from side to side and play inside out, and they kind of remind me of them. I think they want to move it quickly, but I don’t think they have had the pressure that we play. But they like to play fast.”

That’s the first part of the way the Herd builds its offense, even though the system is entirely different. The second item, defending the shooters on the 3-point line, heads north through Big 12 country.

“It’s kind of like when we play Kansas,” Harrison explained. “They were averaging ten threes per game and we tried to limit them to a certain number. It’s the same thing with Marshall. There’s a certain number we want to limit them to.”

That number will remain a secret for now, but what happens if the Herd gets on a Kansas-like streak, and makes shots no matter how closely West Virginia contests them?

“We have played some different types of zones to try to change the flow of the game and maybe make them run a  different offense,” Harrison said. “Our game plan, we will be ready for whatever they do.”


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