Haley Doing A Lot Of Everything For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — He flashed across the Morgantown sky like — if you will pardon the reference — Halley’s Comet, this West Virginia basketball player named Jermaine Haley.
It was Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum and, considering that indoor site, it was as overlooked by those within the building that some have likened to a flying saucer as if Halley’s Comet itself had really flashed across the sky.
The view of what Jermaine Haley had accomplished on that day was obscured by a 25-point, 11-rebound performance from Derek Culver and a second half onslaught by his inside brother, Oscar Tshiebwe, that produced 11 points and nine rebounds.
But that seems to be Haley’s fate this year… to do spectacular things only to be overlooked by more publicized teammates.
To understand just what Haley meant in WVU’s fifth straight win of a still undefeated season, we will begin with the official play-by-play of WVU’s 86-81 victory over a stubborn Rhode Island team.
Here is the line of the game’s first basket:
19:46 — Haley J 2pt layup in the paint 2-0 (assist Osabuohien)
And here is the line of the game’s last basket:
00:12 — Haley J 2pt layup in the paint 84-81 (assist McBride)
You may note that the first basket came with the score 0-0, the last with WVU clinging in the final 12 seconds to an 82-81 lead.
These were, quite obviously, important points and, had you seen them, you would have noted that they came on set plays run for Haley.
Such is his role on this team as a senior.
The last basket was a thing of beauty, a play Huggins put in during a 30-second time out.
“He told me to run something on the fly and we executed it,” said Haley. “Deuce (McBride) made a good pass, D.C. (Derek Culver) set a good screen.”
Call Haley a modest assassin.
The thing is, with all the talent that is on this WVU team — and that is Culver, Tshiebwe, Deuce McBride and Emmitt Matthews Jr. on the upper level — Haley may just be the most complete, the most valuable, the most trusted.
There’s no telling what havoc Haley might have rained upon Rhode Island had Huggins turned him completely loose out of the locker room, for he had gotten loose for layups in the paint to score WVU’s first eight points of the game.
Just three minutes later he was brought to the bench.
OK, perhaps he needed a breather. That’s how they play today’s game and it’s certainly how Huggins plays the game this year, using all 12 of his players.
But Haley sat for almost eight minutes, as if some cloud had come across the sky and obscured the comet that he had so spectacularly been early.
You can’t discount how important it was for Haley to get WVU revved up early, though, for his was a team playing on short rest after a long trip to Mexico with games on consecutive days.
“We were just flat,” Huggins said. “We came back (from the Cancun Challenge) on Thursday night and everybody was tired, so we didn’t go really hard on Friday. Actually, we kind of just went through some things and watched a lot of film.
“Then, today at shoot around, we were the same way. We have a bunch of young guys that have never been through the travel part of it, and the travel part is hard. It takes a lot out of you.”
Haley, however, is a senior who has been around and must have had a spare battery pack for he hit the ignition.
And, at the end he was still there — perhaps because Huggins gave him that eight minute rest early — to not only score the key basket but to shut the door on Rhode Island’s Fatts Russell, who scored 32 points but could not get a shot off in the final minute and a half.
“We were going to double him but we never really got in a situation to double him,” Huggins said, explaining how WVU shut him down. “They threw it away, which really helped us. Jermaine had him going away from the basket and didn’t let him curl back to the ball, which he had been doing.
“If he curls back to the ball he has a running start, but Jermaine did a good job of pushing him toward half court.”
Here’s how Haley saw the defense at the end.
“We knew we needed to get a stop,” he said. “He was killing it the whole game. We told these young guys, they did the same thing to us last year. We had poor defensive effort, but we got stops when it counted. You got to keep your composure, the crowd gets louder. I think we did a great job of closing out the game.”