Effort on boards lead WVU to win
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 08:01
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins has never asked for anything extravagant from his players.
Represent your state well, play physical defense, take care of the basketball, and rebound.
The Mountaineers took care of these basic tenets Wednesday night at home against TCU, earning one of their biggest margins of victory of the entire season by dropping the Horned Frogs 71-50 at the WVU Coliseum.
Huggins actually explained earlier in the year that playing physically and rebounding are, in fact, one in the same, because according to him, that’s ultimately all rebounding is – a test to see who is the most physical, who wants it the most.
The Mountaineers’ rebounding has also been a fairly major determinant in its success this season, or lack thereof, in most circumstances. In fact, the Mountaineers are now 8-2 when outrebounding their opponents, and yet just a pedestrian 1-7 in games that they do not.
Part of the problem when they don’t rebound, according to Huggins, is the Mountaineers may simply have too many nice guys who don’t physically impose their will enough by vehemently going after the basketball.
"We just don’t have aggressive people by nature," Huggins said. "We have a whole bunch of laid-back, nice guys. They are very laid-back, and the reality is, I think, for a good portion of them, this is not the most important thing to them.
"But that’s the way is has to be."
Fortunately for the Mountaineers, their trend of winning games in which they outrebound their opponents indeed continued Wednesday night at the WVU Coliseum, as the Mountaineers grabbed their second-ever Big 12 win against conference foe TCU, also outrebounding the Horned Frogs 42-30.
It also helped that 19 of the Mountaineers’ 42 total rebounds were offensive boards. WVU recorded 16 second-chance points from those offensive rebounds, and that number could have been even bigger had just a few more layups fallen for WVU.
Senior forwards Deniz Kilicli and Dominique Rutledge each recorded a team-high eight rebounds.
"For a positive, that is as active as Deniz has been in a long time," Huggins said. "He was active out on the floor, and he did a lot of positive things. He did a lot of positive things defensively and rebounded the ball better."
And it’s not just West Virginia’s bigs who worked the glass Wednesday night against the Horned Frogs, either. Eleven of the 12 WVU players who saw minutes grabbed at least one rebound.
"Lack of size can be an excuse," said TCU head coach Trent Johnson. "And I thought that there were times where guys were making a conscious mental and physical effort to put a body on people.
"When we’ve struggled, it’s been that way. We were dominated on the glass."
In addition to West Virginia’s significant advantage on the boards, the Mountaineers also pleased their head coach by taking care of the ball much better than they have recently.
In fact, WVU turned the ball over 10 times against TCU Wednesday, compared to 17 turnovers in the blowout loss to Purdue in its last game. West Virginia also conversely forced the Horned Frogs into 17 turnovers – 12 outright steals.
Still, despite the Mountaineers’ improvements at rebounding and taking care of the ball, WVU’s sixth-year head coach still wasn’t afraid to lay into his team following their 21-point victory.
"I guess after all these years, I have learned to not get mad when you win one, but I am not very happy," Huggins said. "We played really hard, and I thought we did things defensively that we have not done for a really long time. But in the second half, we stopped guarding, which has been kind of what we do.
"I was really disappointed, because the second unit that we brought off the bench in the second half didn’t play very well or very hard."