Forty Minutes Minus? No Wonder WVU’s Carter Was Tired
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As West Virginia senior guard Jevon Carter sat down for post game interviews following the Mountaineeres’ 68-61 win over Virginia, he said,”I’m tired”.
No wonder. Under “Minutes Played” in the box score, Carter showed “40-” meaning that he had just a few seconds of rest, and was on the court for almost all of the 40 minutes of the game. With such a workload — one that was needed for West Virginia to get this win — he also continued something he began last season. As the team broke the huddle from timeouts, Carter remained seated on one of the stools that the five players on the court occupy, snatching every last second of rest he can while play was halted.
That, like just about everything else Carter does, is the result of doing what’s best for his team. He knows he’s going to play major minutes this year, and even 15 extra seconds off his feet could be the difference in getting a deflection or snaring a rebound versus seeing the ball go to the other team. While there, though, he’s not just resting. He’s still focusing on what head coach Bob Huggins is saying.
“I’m needing that break,” he admitted. “I just sit there and try to focus on everything he [CoachHuggins] is saying, and seize the moment.”
It’s hard to argue with the results. Carter, despite monumental attention from the Virginia defense, piled up 23 points, ten rebounds, seven assists and two steals in the sweet victory. Adjusting to two defenders coming at him every time he touched the ball, Carter kept the Mountaineer offense from going completely stagnant. Down the stretch, while Daxter Miles and Lamont West were making notable plays, Carter was just as valuable. He grabbed a defensive rebound and fed West for a big three, made five of six free throws and snared another board to secure a double-double. That one, with 33 seconds to play, ended up sewing up the win when he was fouled and made his final two from the line. Seventeen of his points, three rebounds and three assists came in the final 20 minutes.
That Carter excelled in crunch time is not a surprise, but he deserves huge credit for doing so at the end of a 40-minute call to duty. The intensity with which he plays defense is draining just to watch. But it’s what he has built his game upon, and the Cavaliers, with their blocker-shooter offense, make things tough on defenders with constantly setting screens and picks.
“They are hard to guard. You can’t take one second of rest on the defensive end. If you rest on defense they will make you pay,” he observed of the effort required to stay with the UVA offense.
Everyone knows Carter is great, but he’s so routinely great that sometimes he doesn’t get enough attention for what have become standard performances. Only 13 times in WVU history has a player gone 23-10-7 in a game as Carter did against Virginia, and 11 of those performances are owned by guys named Rod Thorn, Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley. That’s impressive company, but West and Miles were the focus of many of the media postgame due to their big plays late. Those were critical, without a doubt, but Carter’s greatness shouldn’t be overshadowed.
For his part, he’s all about the wins, and not about to worry about taking over a game — even though that’s exactly what he often does.
“I just play my game,” he said after adapting to the Cavaliers’ defensive strategy of running multiple defenders at him. “Some days I may have five points. Dax, Lamont, Sags (Konate); someone else may have the hot hand. It’s my job to do what it takes for us to win.”
With no doubt whatsoever, that’s exactly what he is doing.