Juwan Staten, Eron Harris and Terry Henderson might be the best trio of guards in the Big 12 Conference – if not the entire country – but West Virginia’s success down the stretch is going to depend on a lot more than just what these three talented players can provide.
In fact, I firmly believe the Mountaineers’ NCAA chances are going to rely on the play of three different but still vital pieces: Remi Dibo, Devin Williams and Nathan Adrian.
That’s not to say that WVU’s three trusted guards won’t also be significant down the stretch. I think it’s safe to expect a fairly consistent performance from all three.
Henderson has been the least consistent of the three in Big 12 play, but has only scored less than 10 points in three of the Mountaineers’ 13 conference appearances so far (although all have been WVU losses). He’s also been the No. 19 scorer in the entire conference during Big 12 play, so it’s probably unfair to denote his play as that inconsistent.
Harris and Staten have been more consistent. Harris notched double-figure scoring totals in nine consecutive games and Staten did so in 18.
Staten could actually be the poster-boy for consistency; the junior guard leads the Big 12 in assists and minutes per game, is No. 2 in the league in scoring and assist-to-turnover ratio and is even a top 20 rebounder in the conference as a point guard. He has also notched nine performances of 20 points or more this season alone, after never scoring more than 18 in any game last season.
Dibo, Williams and Adrian, on the other hand, haven’t been nearly as reliable. But when they have played well, it’s given the Mountaineers a remarkable and tremendous lift.
And I believe they will indeed be the key to just how far West Virginia can go the rest of this year.
For Dibo and Adrian, this means not only making shots from the perimeter, which is an absolute must, but also contributing on the glass and especially on the defensive end consistently.
They’ve both shown tremendous flashes at times throughout the year, but have also experienced some truly epic lapses that usually end with a tirade from a red-faced Bob Huggins. However, when they do make shots, they space the floor more than Harris and Henderson ever could alone, allowing Staten to do what he does best and break down opposing defenses and either score at will or find one of the many of Mountaineers’ shooters.
The true freshman Williams needs to be more aware of his role throughout this final critical stretch for the Mountaineers. He undoubtedly displayed a lot of potential early on in the season with a slew of double-doubles against mostly non-conference opponents, but he has been more of a liability for West Virginia lately.
It may be a lot to ask of three young players in the midst of their first years’ of D-I college basketball, but ultimately for the Mountaineers to be successful, I believe their three young, inexperienced forwards must contribute consistently and play a major role down the stretch in West Virginia’s hunt for a coveted NCAA bid.