Mountaineers Must Slow Pace & Play To Spur Production On Offense
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia wants to be more tortoise than hare on offense.
It’s not that the Mountaineers want a stagnant offense. Rather, the idea is for steady play that will cut down on turnovers, forced passes and decisions made in haste. There’s just one hang-up: Everything in the program’s DNA tells it to play quickly because of the chaos created on that side.
“That’s the battle for all of us,” Huggins said. “When you play the way we play, it takes awhile to get used to playing so hard on defense and playing at times a little reckless on defense to coming down and slowing down (on offense). Which is why, particularly early in the season with us, you see us turn it over.
“When you say ‘What the heck is that guy doing?’ Well, he’s playing too fast. It’s hard to do and the shot clock has made it a whole lot harder. It used to be you could press like that, and then you could come down and run whatever. You could run flex or you could run some shuffle and make six or seven passes. Now, you make six or seven passes, you’re slowed down, which you have to do on offense. We’re getting better. It’s so much repetition.”
West Virginia got those reps and more against Long Beach State, taking 71 shots and pushing past the 90-point mark for a third time in as many games in the 91-62 victory. The Mountaineers continued to show their increasingly consistent play on offense, hitting 43.7 percent from the floor and amassing 18 assists on 31 field goals. It’s a sign the team is sharing the ball decently, and has come a long way in terms of development following the rout by Texas A&M in the opener.
“I think we are getting better,” Huggins sad. “It’s hard because you have to teach so much and when you teach you don’t run up and down. And when you run it’s hard to teach. When you have as many new guys – with older guys you can run up and down and get more game ready – you have to play more halfcourt and do more fundamental things. I said after the fist game we were tired. But I don’t know what to do. If you cheat it and don’t get the fundamentals things it will bite you in the end.”
Jevon Carter led the assists charge with seven, while Chase Harler admitted he slowed himself down and was able to set a new career high with four threes – which is the exact number he made all of last year. Lamont West finished one point and one three off new career highs in each category, while Konate hit eight-of-10 shots from the floor with a display of longer jumpshooting and a baby hook shot that shows deadly accuracy from close range.
The Mountaineer bench also flexed some muscle, outscoring their Long Beach State counterparts 27-2. That will be a key as West Virginia (3-1) hits the road for three games in four days in the AdvoCare Invitational starting Thanksgiving night against Marist in Orlando.
“I wanted to go down there 4-0,” Huggins said. “But we have a chance to go win a championship and that makes it kinda fun. One of our veteran guys said it’s kinda like going to the NCAA Tournament because you are playing multiple games on a trip and you have to get ready and watch film at the hotel and have your walk-through.”