After sitting out the entire 2011-12 season due to transfer rules, West Virginia guard Juwan Staten was ready to make an impact in his first season at WVU. Staten was poised to help head coach Bob Huggins in the Mountaineers’ inaugural Big 12 season.
That didn’t happen. Staten struggled to get acclimated to playing for Huggins and was even benched at one point.
The Dayton University transfer couldn’t quite grasp Huggins’ style of basketball, making the transition difficult.
“We play a tough style, it is not always the easiest style to learn, and we have a demanding coach,” Staten said. “So, not knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing with a demanding coach can be frustrating.”
He struggled to shoot the ball and lacked confidence. Staten finished 2012-13 with 7.6 points per game as his playing time lessened during the latter half of the season.
Because he wsa upset with how things ended in 2012, Staten re-evaluated his standing in his collegiate career. The West Virginia guard said he realized he needed to see the corrections in his game to improve it.
“I did a little evaluation over the offseason where I looked at a lot of game film and tape,” Staten said. “I looked at some of the stuff I could do to help this team win games this year.”
After learning he needed serious work on how he played the game in Huggins’ offense, Staten practiced his jump-shooting and three-point shooting to be a more effective in the style his head coach wants him to play.
“I’ve been working on my shooting a lot this offseason, and I’ve definitely improved a lot on my shooting, so I’m looking forward to playing in the game, so I can show people how hard I’ve been working,” Staten said.
He did all this to prove to Huggins he is ready to play this season. After one week of preseason practice, Huggins is buying into what Staten has done during the offseason.
“(Staten’s) been so much better offensively. He’s not hesitating when he’s open; he can step up and make shots,” Huggins said. “He’s doing a better job at the perimeter. I think he’s dramatically improved.”
Huggins said he is truly impressed with Staten’s leadership in the team. With no seniors on the team, Staten has four years of college experience, making him the veteran of Huggins’ roster.
Staten has gone out of his way to make sure his young teammates understand what Huggins is asking of them.
“Juwan (Staten) has been really, really good. He’s been good from a leadership standpoint,” Huggins said.
Staten said he just felt while improving his game, he might as well improve the way he acts on the court, which can be contagious to the younger players.
“For our coaches to say that we didn’t have any leadership (in 2012), it really struck home with me,” Staten said. “And I knew we had a lot of new players coming in this year – a lot of freshmen – so I met with the coaches a lot during the offseason to find out what they want to stress to the players so tried to just help out.”
With Huggins and Staten seeing eye to eye for the first time since Staten’s arrival on campus in June 2011, everything seems to be off to a solid start in preseason.
“I understand fully what we’re trying to do, so (Coach Huggins and I) are on the same page,” Staten said.