West Virginia junior guard Juwan Staten is having an All-Conference caliber season. Ranking as one of the league leaders in points, assists, assist to turnover ratio, minutes played and more, Staten is deservedly gaining national recognition. To this point in the season, Staten has been by far the most valuable on the roster.
Now, meet his understudy, Gary Browne.
Less than a year ago, Browne started games at point guard for West Virginia. Two years ago as a true freshman, he played about 25 minutes per game. Flash forward to now – the Puerto Rico native isn’t the most valuable player, but he is OK with that.
“You have a guy in Juwan (Staten) who is having a hell of a season,” Browne said. “He’s my guy. He’s been here since I was a freshman. I’m proud of him and what he’s been doing. He’s the main guy on our team right now, and when you have a main guy on your team like that, you need to step back and just play your role.”
A week ago against then-No. 11 Iowa State, Browne shined doing exactly that, playing in his role. He played just 12 minutes off the bench but provided West Virginia with a hustle defender and a ball handler to give Staten help in the backcourt.
“(Browne) gives us toughness,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “We want him to play hard, and we want him to do the things he does.”
Defensively, West Virginia had to shut down the Big 12 Conference leading scorer Melvin Ejim, who totaled 48 points just two days prior against TCU.
Browne knew that in Huggins’ adjusted matchup zone defense he would be able to come into the game and help pressure Ejim.
“He got frustrated that he wasn’t getting the ball and that he wasn’t getting calls. We did what we needed to do,” Browne said.
He also grabbed three rebounds in the victory.
Offensively, Browne was efficient. He scored eight points while sinking all four of his free throw attempts. By hitting shots and proving he can handle the ball with ease, Browne knows his role is extremely important as WVU moves toward the stretch run.
“Coach Huggins and I talk about that. I’ve been here for three years. My freshman year, when we were in the Big East, I was the point guard,” Browne said. “I’ve played in big arenas. I have no problem with pressure. I just come into the game and do what I need to do.”
Browne even played well in a losing effort against Texas Saturday. In 20 minutes, he logged 10 points, shooting 3-of-4 from the field.
He also said he’s having the most fun he’s had in his three years in Morgantown.
WVU and Browne welcome Baylor to the Coliseum Saturday at 1:30 p.m.