With the season opener against Mount St. Mary’s just two days away, the West Virginia men’s basketball team is still shaking off its preseason rust and trying to find an identity for the upcoming season.
In their final preseason tune-up, the Mountaineers defeated Fairmont State 89-70 in an exhibition game at the WVU Coliseum Monday night.
Although the competition was not equal to what West Virginia will face in the Big 12 this season, Monday’s exhibition provided a glimpse at some of the strengths and weaknesses of this Mountaineer team.
Sophomore guard Eron Harris and freshman forward Nathan Adrian combined to go 9-17 from 3-point range Monday night, and West Virginia shot 44.4 percent from beyond the arc for the game.
“I think we can make shots. I think Nate (Adrian) can make shots. Obviously Eron (Harris) has made shots. We’re going to be a better perimeter shooting team than we’ve been in a while,” said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins.
While West Virginia had success shooting from long distance Monday, Fairmont State dominated the game down low, outscoring WVU 34-10 in the paint.
Freshman forward Devin Williams totaled 14 rebounds on the night, but struggled to establish himself in the post offense, as he made just one of his three shots and finished with four points on the night.
“He’s got a great body with big, wide shoulders, and he’s got good hands. I’ve known Devin since he was a freshman (in high school). He’s always rebounded the ball,” Huggins said.
“We’d like for him to score a little bit on the block. I think he can. He can do some things down there.”
With the variety of skill sets the Mountaineers possess this season, Huggins said it is important for each player to stay within their comfort zone and not try to force anything.
“I think the game still comes down to (taking) all the shots you think you can make. If you don’t think that you can make it, or it’s a shot that you’re not going to make, then don’t shoot it,” Huggins said.
“Don’t get out of the realm of what you are. It’s a fine line, because then (the players) think, ‘Well, he doesn’t want me to do this.’ No, it’s not that. When you get out of your comfort zone, you stand out in a negative way.”
Harris, who led West Virginia in scoring during the 2012-13 season, put up 30 points Monday night. For him to continue to have success this season, Huggins said he needs to be careful to take what the defense is giving him, rather than forcing the situation and disrupting the flow of the offense.
“Eron Harris is such a good kid and such a competitive kid that he wants to win, but he can’t force things where he forces things into turnovers and bad shots,” Huggins said.
“I think everybody realizes I’m not dumb enough to tell Eron Harris, ‘Don’t shoot’, but it’s a fine line between taking good shots.”