Now in his second season as a Mountaineer, junior point guard Juwan Staten has been given the reins as starting point guard this season. Staten and Jabarie Hinds split time at the position last year, but Hinds transferred from the program last offseason.
Staten has played nearly every second of every game. He’s logged 40, 39 and 40 minutes, respectively, in his first three games of the season. With five juniors and zero seniors on the roster, Staten is expected to become a big vocal leader on a team that won just 13 games in the 2012 season.
“He wants to be the leader,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “He knows what we want and done a great job of leading by example. He’s doing the things you have to do now and improved tremendously.”
While the season is still early, it’s clear there is a new and improved point guard leading the Mountaineer offense this season. Staten is averaging 20 points, 7.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds while shooting more than 50 percent from the floor.
“He’s worked at it,” Huggins said. “When you put the time it helps your confidence. It’s hard to keep him from getting in the lane when he wants to.”
Improving the jump shot was a key emphasis for Staten. Last season he shot 38 percent from the floor and only attempted nine three-pointers all season. His 7.2 assists per contest leads the Big 12 Conference.
College basketball instituted new hand checking rules this season in an effort to increase the points scored per game. Scoring in college basketball last season was the lowest its been since 1952.
While the new rules present challenges to teams and coaches, Staten said its something he’s getting used to.
“It makes it very hard to guard the ball with the way the (refs) are calling fouls now,” he said. “Zone (defense) is definitely valuable because it keeps us out of foul trouble. I like the zone, and I hope we continue to play a lot more.”
The Mountaineers have already attempted 85 free throws, nearly 29 per game. Staten leads the team with 30 free throw attempts, indication he’s getting to the basket early and often.
“The biggest thing is just taking an opportunity when it’s there,” he said. “Free throws will be a key this year – they’ll win and lose games. My focus is to just (drive), make the basket and hopefully get the foul. If I don’t get the foul, then at least I got the two points. I want to worry about me and things that I control rather than the things I can’t control.
“It’s changed the game,” Huggins said of the new rules. “It’s hard for guys who have a hard time getting in position.”