Little Notice For Jermaine Haley’s Big Night, Versatile Performance Vs. Missouri
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When he’s at his best, Jermaine Haley might be at his most unnoticed.
That sounds counterintuitive, but it’s certainly been the case recently for the unassuming senior, who deflects attention to himself as adroitly as he defends opposing scorers or drives to the basket to score.
Take, for example, Saturday’s 74-51 win over Missouri. West Virginia’s defense, of which he is a big part, held the Tigers to just 15 made baskets and 30 rebounds while forcing 16 turnovers. Still, the attention to those areas was focused on WVU’s big interior players. WVU scored 50 points in the second half, and Haley was tied for the team lead in points, but again, that slipped by the wayside. Deuce McBride’s matching 15, and Oscar Tshiebwe’s 14, garnered more attention.
That doesn’t faze Haley at all, however. His answers to questions are as likely to bring up teammates as they are to include any attention on himself. That doesn’t change, however, his importance to this Mountaineer team. In a way, that’s highlighted by the attention he gets when he isn’t playing at his best. Skip back a week or two ago, when he was in the midst of a shooting downturn and on the wrong end of some turnovers, and “What’s wrong with Haley?” was a common theme.
Of course, it wasn’t as if he was playing terribly. He was still performing well on defense and supporting his teammates on the bench. Missing, however, were those drives and post-ups at the rim, and the confident pushing of the ball upcourt in transition. He began to break out of that against Texas, and in the win over the Tigers, was back to the player Mountaineer fans and coaches have come to expect. He just missed a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds (one more board and maybe he gets some more post game attention), stole the ball three times and dished out two assists while helping hold the Mizzou starting five to just 14 points.
Haley is usually in the midst of that defensive action, drawing an opponent’s best scorer or most dynamic offensive player.
“We have certain lineups where we are so big teams have problems scoring on us. Our defense definitely energizes our offense, so we take pride on getting stops,” is about as much as Haley allows about himself, and the problems his height cause on that end of the court. He’s also routinely dismissive of his versatility, noting that he is just trying to help the team in any way possible.
That’s true, but it’s also indicative of the fact that players who master varied roles, call them “glue guys” or a jack of all trades, often are overlooked.
West Virginia’s coaching staff isn’t included in that group, though.
“Jermaine gives us a lot of length at the guard position,” head coach Bob Huggins reiterated. “When he [and Gabe Osabuohien] are active, they take vision away. Guys may get beat but they can’t get the ball to them because they can’t see them.”
Then there’s the offensive end, where Haley also serves multiple roles.
“We’re trying to put people in a mismatched situation with him more. I think the biggest thing is he helps us rebound at both ends. He keeps balls alive, he rebounds,” Huggins detailed. We’ve had these spells where we’re just out of it, and that’s when it’s great to have a 6-foot-7 guard.”
Add in time at point, which he can fill when WVU goes with a bigger lineup or wants to spread the floor and create some of those mismatches, and the list of contributions Haley makes only grows longer. Not all of them are box score based, but make no mistake – without him, West Virginia isn’t a 16-3 team at this point.