Proper Mentality Missing As WVU Enters Meat Of Noncon Slate
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bob Huggins challenged his team to grow up after the win over NJIT.
It wasn’t that the game lacked every bit of expected lopsidedness. The Mountaineers used 25 points from Jevon Carter and four other double-figure scorers in a 102-69 victory that was every bit as bad as the final indicated. But once again, WVU was lackluster at the start and the old issues reared the head with Sags Konate in foul trouble, Dax Miles with the cooler portion of his hot-and-cold shooting and the visitors keeping West Virginia off the offensive glass early in hanging around for the initial portions of the game.
What’s really bothering Huggins, though, is not just the lack of execution, but the way in which his team is handling itself. Konate played just four minutes in the first half because of two quick fouls, then sat for the final 16. He then played in stretches in the second half before taking a seat for a long lecture from Huggins as the game wound down.
Miles, coming off a 26-point performance against Missouri in the AdvoCare Invitational title game, scored just eight points with two assists and four fouls, but worked to find teammates and chose to attack the bucket rather than hoist long-range attempts. Magic Bender got stripped multiple times early, and never showed the toughness or willingness to grab and grasp the ball rather than weakly handling it. And the overall defensive effort was left wanting, NJIT getting solid step-in looks and being able to navigate the man-to-man for quality looks to the tune of 34 points in the paint.
“We can’t give up 34 points in the paint to people,” Huggins said. “We can’t turn people loose the way we turn people loose. We can’t turn people loose to the middle who can one, finish around the rim and two, pass it to other people who are spotted up outside. We have to cut the floor in half and we didn’t do that. We are so inexperienced it’s hard to make adjustments and then you take them out because they are very rarely where they are supposed to be and they pout.
“We need some guys to grow up. Forget the basketball, we act like we are eighth graders. You score a basket and then you yell at the guy you scored against? What is wrong with people? If that would have happened when I played you would have got punched in the face. Maybe that’s what deterred all that stuff. I tell our guys all the time I don’t care what they do. I care what we do.”
Which is be fairly average in multiple facets. West Virginia is certainly better than it was early in the year, particularly against Texas A&M in the opener. It has reached the 100-plus point mark twice, and it once again throttled a lesser foe in NJIT while managing 29 points off 19 forced turnovers. WVU also had 17 assists against 12 turnovers, but those 17 figured in less than half of the 35 field goals.
It was a ho-hum win, and that’s not what Huggins is wanting at this point, especially with No. 18 and undefeated UVA headed to the Coliseum on Tuesday. West Virginia’s biggest foes in some of these match-ups is the Mountaineers themselves, and in that regard the grade was not one of passing in this game.
“I worry about out immaturity all the time,” Huggins said. “It’s seemingly so much easier to come back from failure than success and we have to learn how to do that. We are so much a work in progress, but the honest to God’s truth is were last year at this time.”