WVU’s Jordan McCabe Embracing All Aspects Of Learning Collegiate Game
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins doesn’t go out of his way to compliment players, especially young players, as they make their way through the initial stages of the preseason. It’s more likely to hear the head man of the Mountaineer program talk about his team throwing the ball up in the stands or not knowing which way to go than to hear him dish out compliments.
Thus it was somewhat of a surprise, in the very early stages of the team’s 2018-19 preseason schedule, to hear Huggins dish out words of praise for Jordan McCabe’s diligence in film study.
“McCabe has been unbelievable,” Huggins said last month. “He has taken film and digested film as well as anybody I’ve ever had.”
A few weeks on, Huggins has not changed his view.
“He wants to play and he wants to win. He’s as dedicated a guy as we’ve ever had here,” said WVU’s veteran coach. “He studies film. He does everything you ask him to do.”
The Kaukauna, Wis., freshman has been an accomplished point for several years, but there’s a giant gap of distance between succeeding in that role on the high school level and at the upper reaches of Division I – say, about as big as the mileage from his home to West Virginia. McCabe knew that, and also realized that to prepare himself for the increase in competition, he had to work in as many different directions as possible.
“I’ve always had an obsession and a mindset with this,” he said of film study and understanding what goes in to being a good point guard. “Coming in, my goal was to be one of the hardest workers in the country, and that goes beyond the court.”
McCabe’s film work goes back to his earliest days in the game. Starting when he was about “five or six” years old, he began watching tapes of some great passers and scorers, with Pete Maravich heading the list.
“I had a tape of him playing. That was something my father and grandfather gave me, so I started doing his basketball homework stuff,” he said of his emulation of The Pistol.
“I’d take my basketball with me everywhere, to the point that it was probably an annoyance to my family,” he added. The work also included passing the ball at targets and emulating some of his flashier dishes. “Mom hated when I would dribble in the kitchen.”
McCabe has the reputation for delivering the ball with flair, but notes that he isn’t doing so to attract attention. Instead, it’s just an outgrowth of the way he sees the game. Huggins understands that, but also emphasizes that sometimes the simplest delivery is the best. The ball getting to its intended location on time, though, is the chief goal.
McCabe admits that the pace of the game and the size of the players makes things tougher, but that for him the goal is the same.
“James Long has been a great help in terms of learning how to break down film to better prepare myself,” he said. “The margin of error gets a lot smaller. Windows are going to get smaller. I know I have great teammates here, and if I can get them the ball things are going to work well. People like to say someone is a passing point guard or a shooting point guard, but I’m just a point guard. I try to make the right play every time.”