WVU’s Matthews Sees Role Acceptance, Coachability As Keys To Improvement
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Last week, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins described freshman forward Emmitt Matthews as “coachable”. What does that mean to the Washington native, who continues to see his minutes and production go up as WVU’s young season unfolds?
“Just listen,” said Matthews, who scored 11 points and added three rebounds and two assists (along with zero tunovers) in the 92-78 win over Rider. “Huggs is hands down one of the best coaches ever. When he is telling me something, I have no option but to listen. He has been around this game longer than I have been alive. Learning from him – he tells me a lot. On the court, I am seeing things that I didn’t see before I got here.”
Littered among those nuggets — and sometimes blasts — of advice are numerous fundamentals, which are often lost in the highlight- and stats-driven evaluations of today.
“Seeing the open man. Catch, turn, look Triple threat. It’s a lot of fundamental stuff, ” Matthews elaborated. “You don’t think about fundamental stuff here because you think you have it. But every little thing matters. You can make little mistakes and it can cost you big time.”
Emphasis on those skills, and others such as passing, have been the focus of numerous West Virginia practice periods over the past week or so. Some players are catching on more quickly than others, and as a result those individuals are seeing an uptick in playing time. Not coincidentally, it is those players who are paying attention, listening, then putting the lessons into practice that are having the most success. Matthews is one, and he has the advantage of having been taught to do so from his earliest days in the game.
“My dad (Emmitt Sr.) was my coach my whole life,” the younger Matthews credited. “I know that for where I want to go, he knows. That translated into high school and to here. That has been my thing my whole life — trying to listen and take from people what I can. Huggs has given me an unlimited supply of material. I want him to give me as much as he wants. It’s working for me. ”
Also playing into the improvement is the acceptance of roles. Most everyone on the squad was a high school standout, and there are lessons to be learned about what they can and can’t do on this highest of collegiate levels, and how those abilities fit into the team function.
“We have guys like Derek Culver and Andrew Gordon who got the ball in the post and bullied whoever was behind them,” Matthews observed. “I kind of did everything in high school, and Jordan (McCabe) and Trey (Doomes) did everything in high scho0l. Jermaine (Haley) has done everything for a long time. Now we have to adjust to a role. It is a big adjustment, but we don’t have any big egos. We have to accept the job, or you aren’t going to play.”