Increasing Role, Little Talk From WVU’s Lamont West
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Even though he isn’t sharing many of his thoughts, West Virginia sophomore forward Lamont West knows that he will play a vital role in the fortunes of this year’s Mountaineer basketball team. Asked, in several different ways, about WVU’s closed scrimmage with Purdue and the upcoming opener with Texas A&M on Friday night, and West responded with either “We are getting ready”, or “I can’t talk about that”.
Whether he was channeling his inner Marshawn Lynch, West is aware of the task in front of him. After averaging 5.6 points in just under 12 minutes per game a year ago, West is poised to see his minutes rise. He was a starter against Albany in WVU’s public exhibition.
“I kind of have the same role, but I am going to play more minutes,” he allowed. “I have to produce more, I have to rebound more. I have to play harder. I have to hit more shots.”
Rebounding especially, is on the improvement list. West grabbed fewer than two boards per outing a year ago, and that simply isn’t tenable, given WVU’s lack of depth along the front line.
“I am trying to work on my rebounding and my defense,” he said. “I still have a ways to improve. I have to do my job.”
Much of that job will come on the defensive end, where head coach Bob Huggins notes “He’s trying, and he’s getting better.” Still, it’s a long way from trying to being effective, and West has to round into a solid performer at both ends of the court if WVU is to compete in the always deep Big 12 conference. West admits that his effort level has to go up, and remain consistent.
“I had to play hard last year, but if I want to start this year I have to play harder,” he said. “You can’t take possessions off, because if you take one off that may be the one where the game is lost.”
That last is a direct quote from Huggins, so it appears as if some of what he is trying to teach is sinking in. West has added some size and strength to his frame, in order to better battle the big bodies in the league, but so much of rebounding is “want to”. West is saying the right things, but he is going to have to get at least five or six rebounds per game.
Tied into that is defense, both in the press and in the halfcourt. WVU’s pressure is a long way from what it was in 2016-17, and its halfcourt defense is still a major work in progress. It will have to be much better than it has been so far in order to get a win against Texas A&M on Friday night.
“I think we can make shots, but I don’t know if we can stop anybody,” Huggins said. That message, too, will have to be received and acted upon.
TAM big, they have big centers. We can’t let them get into our bodies. We looked at last year’s game a little bit, but we have to get oursevlse right before we look at anyone else.