How Well Has WVU Learned Its Lessons?
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It’s the reason, really, for going to college.
Assimilating information – learning – to help better performance in the future is at the root of any educational experience.
That hasn’t been easy, or smooth, for West Virginia’s basketball team. Mirroring many other struggles in the 2018-19 season, this edition of the Mountaineers hasn’t always paid attention to or gotten the most out of scouting reports and video review. The hope is, though, that the trimmed down roster is more fully engaged in doing so, and that it can use the past two games against Oklahoma, as well as the updated notes and items made ready for the upcoming game, to perform better.
“I think the last couple of weeks especially, we have been more focused,” WVU assistant coach Ron Everhart said of the attention being paid to the information presented by the coaching staff. “I think we have started to jell together a little bit more. I think we have guys who like each other on the floor. It’s been much better in presenting the scouting report, holding the guys’ attention and them holding each other accountable.”
There’s also been the challenge of “learning how to learn.” Moving up from high school to college, whether in the traditional classroom or in athletic study sessions, much more is demanded of each participant in terms of attention, personal accountability and individual work. First and foremost, each player has to want to be involved. Then comes dealing with greater amounts of information, which has to be worked on independently. Again, Everhart sees improvements.
“It’s a whole different ball game,” he said of the difference between high school and Division I, and including items both on and off the court. “From the game being longer to the preparation being more difficult, our kids have come a long way. They haven’t done this before. It’s something they have had to adjust to.”
On the players’ side, there also appears to be a better appreciation for learning.
“Coach Everhart emphasized a lot of things in film. Now it’s just a matter of playing hard through the whole game,” freshman Emmitt Matthews said. “The scout, we take really serious. We have to make sure we know their personnel, their best lineups, what plays they are going to run. It’s important for us that we know all that.”
Matthews stands as an example of the season-long improvement process. Over a stretch of 14 games midway through the season, he saw two games in which he did not play at all, and seven others in which he got single-digit minutes of playing time. Over the last seven, though, he has been a lineup stalwart, averaging more than 24 minutes per outing.
In WVU’s most recent outing against the Sooners, Matthews had eight points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.
“The third game is always hard to play. We got them the first time, they got us the second time,” he said of the rubber match with OU coming up Wednesday night. “It’s kind of a clean slate here. We just have to play hard.”
Backed, of course, by lessons learned.