Want To Shoot The Ball Well? WVU’s Huggins Says Pass It Correctly

West Virginia guard Sean McNeil eyes a path to the basket

When discussing and working on aspects of improving the shooting of the basketball, items such as the arc of the shot, getting the ball over the front of the rim and position of the hand and wrist on the release are just some of the many items that come into play. For WVU head coach Bob Huggins, though, another aspect of the game also contributes heavily to shooting the ball well.

“I think to a large degree we will shoot the ball much much better when we pass it better,” said WVU’s veteran head coach, who isn’t limited to just the improvement of mechanics as a path to making the ball go in the hoop. “Our offense, instead of looking like a bunch of guys running into each other, will look like a fluid offense once we pass the basketball. If you think back, everybody has been able to pass the ball here. They’ve all learned to pass the basketball, and that’s key.”

While WVU’s offense hasn’t been as bad as Huggins described, it has not produced quite at the level he expected coming in to the season. The Mountaineers are making only 45% of their field goals (32% from three), and are being outshot by their opponents in both categories.

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At least some of that stems from the fact that the timing and accuracy of West Virginia’s passes have been inconsistent at best. Passes have led shooters that are open into covered areas, and even those that reach their intended recipients have put them out of shape to catch and shoot smoothly.

“People don’t think about that as much as what they need to, but the key to shooting, and to offense, is to be able to have the ball in a position where you can catch it,” said Huggins, who has seen just 66 assists from his team in its first five games. “It’s not that we don’t have guys open. We don’t get the ball to them. Or we get it too late to them and they’re under the backboard, or get it too early to them and they have to bounce it.”

At least WVU is trying to move the ball on the perimeter. Attempts to get the ball inside have been few and far between, in part because none of the Mountaineers’ forwards have any proven ability to score with their backs to the basket. Huggins also sees passing miscues on some of those limited attempts, and doesn’t want his team to give up on trying to develop some inside scoring.

“When you throw it down around guys’ ankles, it’s hard for them to scoop it up and finish around the rim,” he noted, detailing a problem that is pandemic across much of the college landscape. “You have to throw the ball away from the defense, and we don’t do that.

“A pass (inside) ought to be from the waist up. If you throw it below their waist they probably aren’t going to score. Who wants to turn their hands over and kneel down like a catcher and then jump up and shoot one? No one is very good at that. It needs to be in a position where you can catch and finish. If you never pass the ball to someone his guy is going to stand in the lane. Why wouldn’t he?”

As might be expected, veteran guards Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman lead the Mountaineers with assists (18 and 13, respectively), but in third place is forward Gabe Osabuohien (10). He understands angles and positioning inside, and being able to deliver the ball there while also finding the proper player to kick the ball to or move it on the perimeter are two more of his many underappreciated and unnoticed strengths.

“We’ve always tried to get our bigs to pass the ball too – dribble handoffs, or something so they are involved in the offense,” Huggins observed.

While that won’t be a major part of WVU’s game this year, it can be a complementary one, as it was late in the Clemson game when Osabuohien drove into the lane, drew a help defender, and dumped the ball to Jalen Bridges for an open lay-up to cut the Tigers’ lead to two. Get a couple of those per game, and offensive vistas continue to open up.

With so many players from so many different programs, which emphasize different skills, it’s not surprising that some of the disappearing fundamentals of the game aren’t present as they all try to assimilate the Mountaineer way of playing the game. West Virginia, with its motion offense, needs to have accurate and on-time passing, and also has to get those dishes to its perimeter shooters so they can catch and shoot without delay. Achieve that, and it can compete with most any team on its schedule.

Home Page forums Want To Shoot The Ball Well? WVU’s Huggins Says Pass It Correctly

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    When discussing and working on aspects of improving the shooting of the basketball, items such as the arc of the shot, getting the ball over the front
    [See the full post at: Want To Shoot The Ball Well? WVU’s Huggins Says Pass It Correctly]


    Sounds like a Beilein statement.  Pass the ball.  Pass it without a dribble.  Pass the ball where the player will be, not where he is.  Put it in a place where he can catch it in his shooting motion.    THEN ADD ….. Move without the ball.  Move to get the D moving so you open up the passing (and dribbling) lanes.  Put your hands out to where you want the ball to be received.

    Biggest peeve I have is when out guys stand in the corner with their defender directly between them and the basket and we watch the G’s drive the lane.   We just stand there with the defender directly between us and the ball.  Take that 2,3,4 steps toward the side and create a passing lane when other D’s collapse on the driver.  Other teams do this well.  Marquette KILLED US doing this.  Dribble drive and kick out works well if the guys without the ball move to an open lane.  We haven’t learned how to do this.


    Hop on 2 before as you receive the pass, then establish a pivot foot… wish we emphasized that still!


    “Coach, why am I going around in circles”?

    “Shut up or Ill nail your other foot to the floor”!


    Passing the ball is how you win games. Huggins best team ever at WVU passed the ball. Too many selfish players in today’s game of basketball. College and the NBA.


    NBA has become 1 on 1 drive thru your defender.  All the bobbleheads talk about is players ability to absorb contact on O or D.

    I blame this on rules changes that favor offensive players and punish D players for trying to get position.  O players can run right thru defenders and the defender gets the foul.


    I agree Butler, but it makes us sound like the old men we are!  Happy Thanksgiving


    DD, I resemble that remark and fully embrace it.  I am an old man.  Hitting from the gold tees has been nice to me.  Driver / wedge is my game where most of my friends are hitting Driver / Wood.   Embrace it while you can.

    Happy Thanksgiving.


    I prefer to call them “executive tees.” I know my limitations. Why not take the shorter tee at the age of 89? It keeps my scores in the 40s for 9 holes, which is all I can play in one day. I do shoot my age or better for 18 holes (2 days of 9 holes) several times a year, though. How many 60-year-olds can do THAT?


    CFE, I play a number of courses that have green tees for the super seniors.  You’re a score older than I.  Kudo’s to you for still getting out there and scoring that well.

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Home Page forums Want To Shoot The Ball Well? WVU’s Huggins Says Pass It Correctly

Home Page forums Want To Shoot The Ball Well? WVU’s Huggins Says Pass It Correctly