WVU Continues Search For Roles As It Hosts Rhode Island

WVU Continues Search For Roles As It Hosts Rhode Island


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s basketball team has the Cancun Challenge tournament championship in its trophy case, an unblemished 6-0 record, a star freshman player and a team that is 12-deep.

So how come you can’t avoid that feeling that it hasn’t even scratched the surface of what it can become before this season is over?

West Virginia guard Jermaine Haley (10) puts all his effort in a drive
West Virginia guard Jermaine Haley (10) puts all his effort in a drive

And, maybe more important, as the Mountaineers ready themselves to play a 5-2 Rhode Island team that beat them last year at 2 p.m. today at the Coliseum, is whether that is good or not.

That, at least, is what Bob Huggins was asked.

“At this time of year it’s a good thing,” he said. “We have a lot of things we can get better on. at both ends of the floor. What’s even better about it is they understand that.”

There has been a lack of consistency in the play of the team.

Think about these numbers. In six games, WVU has reached 70 points in a game only twice.

That is not good from a team that Huggins felt coming in was built to score. Normally his teams have generated offense from defensive pressure and offensive rebounding, but he emphasized shooting ability in putting this group together.

Yet, as they went into the weekend they were shooting just 42.7% from the field, which ranks No. 216 in the NCAA, and just 20.6% from 3-point range, which ranks only 256th in the country.

The big disappointments to date have been the inability from the outside by point guard Jordan McCabe, who is shooting just 31.6% from the floor and 1 of 11 from 3-point range, and Taz Sherman, who came in a highly touted scorer, who is shooing just 23.1% from the floor and 2 of 11 from long range.

What’s more, Derek Culver’s shooting percentage is just 31.1%, but Huggins forgives that.

“He really hasn’t made shots since he’s been here, but he’s been maybe our most consistent player,” Huggins said. “He’s done a heck of a job for a 6-10 guy who is 260 pounds guarding 6-3 guys out on the perimeter.”

The Mountaineers offense has come from the freshman sensation Oscar Tshiebwe, who has been alternating good game/bad game, freshman Miles “Deuce” McBride, senior Jermaine Haley and sophomore Emmitt Matthews Jr.

Those four have scored 57.7% of WVU’s points.

While Huggins’ front line has been pretty steady, the rest of the team has been sporadic with its play, perhaps because he’s still searching for answers.

“I’m not sure we have defined roles,” Huggins said. “We’re playing 12 guys. You look and we’re playing multiple positions.”

And, maybe more important, as the Mountaineers ready themselves to play a 5-2 Rhode Island team that beat them last year at 2 p.m. today at the Coliseum, is whether that is good or not.

That, at least, is what Bob Huggins was asked.

The problem in this game is one they have encountered often. They are tall, front-court oriented team while Rhode Island is a smaller guard-oriented team, which can create match up problems.

“They very well could be the best guards we’ve faced so far,” Huggins said, speaking of 5-10 Fatts Russell, who averages 19.6 points a game, and 6-3 Jeff Dorwin, who averages 15. “They both can score at all levels. They both can finish at all levels. They can put it on the floor. They are pretty well-rounded.”

And being undersized hasn’t mattered to Russell.

“Russell is explosive. He’s a guy who grew up in a city probably playing against bigger and older guys,” Huggins said.

Huggins, however, won’t size down to match up.

“We haven’t sized down yet,” he said. “If you look at Northern Colorado, they were pretty good behind the arc and we haven’t sized down. Northern Iowa we didn’t size down and their guard play was pretty good.”

The game will be televised on AT&T Sports Net.




Home forums WVU Continues Search For Roles As It Hosts Rhode Island

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    WVU Continues Search For Roles As It Hosts Rhode Island MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s basketball team has the Cancun Challenge tournament champi
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    Playing 12 guys and the last 3 getting 10+/- min/gm is good and bad. Guys like Knapper and Routt have a role. Gabe is just starting to get his sea legs. Harler, Taz and McNeil have are needed for their specific talents. At some point this will settle down to a 9 man rotation.

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