The West Virginia University men’s basketball team will take on No. 11 Oklahoma State tomorrow at the WVU Coliseum. WVU knows the Cowboys will be its toughest competition so far this season, but the team said they’re ready for what lies ahead of them, especially with the leadership they have been getting all season from junior guard Juwan Staten.
Since his freshman year at the University of Dayton and during his past season with WVU, Staten has gained plenty of valuable lessons that have made him into a leadership caliber player both on and off the court. Head coach Bob Huggins may be the one who has noticed the changes the most.
“It’s night and day, but he’s worked at it. He’s put a lot of time in the gym, he’s put a lot of time in film study,” Huggins said. “It’s kind of like a quarterback in that a point guard really needs to know who’s coming open first and then who’s coming open second.”
All of Staten’s extra practice has earned him an average of more than six assists per game, which is good for second-most in the Big 12 Conference, while turning the ball over fewer than two times each contest. His 16.8 points per game are sixth-best in the conference.
“He’s pretty much been doing it all year,” Huggins said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and his understanding of what I want him to do is very, very good. He’s playing at a high level right now.”
Staten’s ability to take control of the game is something that has become routine for the junior out of Dayton, Ohio, as he has already surpassed his points total from the 2012-13 season just 15 games into this season.
“We’ve got Mr. Staten. He really did a good job controlling the game,” said sophomore guard Terry Henderson. “He helped a lot. I think he’s the one that got us together and was like, ‘We’ve got to win this game.’ He got it through everybody’s head.”
Staten is well aware his teammates look to him in key situations. It’s the reason he has become more comfortable in big time situations this season. Being the “go to” guy in tense circumstances has become Staten’s job for this inexperienced team.
“I feel like I’m a veteran on this team. We have a lot of new players. We don’t have any seniors, so it’s going to take someone to take the lead,” he said.
“The coaches have a lot of respect for me, my teammates have a lot of respect for me and they put a lot of weight on my shoulders, but I embrace it and I just go out there and try to do anything I can to help the team win.”