In Friday night’s 77-62 win over Mount St. Mary’s, one intriguing storyline came into play for the West Virginia men’s basketball team.
Junior guard Juwan Staten played with more poise and aggressiveness than ever before. He scored a career-high 22 points to lead WVU to a 1-0 record in the 2013-14 season.
“First, it just feels good to win. We just need to build on it. I just wanted to win, so I went out there and did everything Coach said. Coach Huggs said I need to be more aggressive and force the issue a little more.”
Staten looked to be more comfortable in the mid-range game, as he knocked down jump shots with consistency. WVU head coach Bob Huggins said that Staten’s productivity comes with the hard work he’s put in during practice and the offseason.
“Juwan kept talking about how we wanted to be a leader,” Huggins said. “I tried to explain to him that the best leaders I’ve ever had are guys who lead by example. The guys who are the hardest working guys in practice everyday. They are also the guys who know what we want. He’s done a great job of digesting what we want done.
“He’s done a great job of leading by example. He’s in the gym early, he stays late.”
Huggins said Staten was a difficult cover for Mount St. Mary’s all evening because of his speed and ability to hit that pull-up jump shot.
“He’s improved tremendously,” he said. “He’s worked at (shooting). He’s put the time in. When you put the time in, it helps your confidence. When you make the first couple, that really helps. When he makes those, he’s really good. It’s hard to keep him from getting in the lane when he wants to get in the lane.”
Staten received help from sophomore guard Eron Harris. WVU’s leading scorer from the 2012-13 season added 19 points to go along with Staten’s career night. The demeanor of the junior looked vastly different than a season ago. On Friday night, Staten looked comfortable knowing he had to be a key piece as sophomore leader Terry Henderson was sidelined with an injury.
As Staten continues to fit into his new role at point guard and being a prolific scorer on offense, WVU fans may expect the Dayton, Ohio, native to put similar numbers throughout the 2013-14 season.
“I just went out there and played my game,” Staten said. “That’s basically my goal for every game. Take the shots when they’re open, make the passes when they’re open and try to do anything and everything I can to make the team win. If it goes another route, then it goes another route.”
Staten struggled shooting the ball against Virginia Tech Tuesday afternoon, but he was able to help through rebounding and assists against rival Hokies.
The junior recorded 10 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a steal, but Staten still only shot 25 percent from the field (3 of 12). The Mountaineers in total shot only 35.7 percent from the field, while continuing their free throw struggles, shooting 63.6 percent from the charity stripe. At one point in the game, WVU was leading by 17 points.
While there is talent and promise on this young and inexperienced roster, Staten’s consistency and his new role as a leader on this team must be constant for success in the 2013-14 season.