Mountaineer guards look to run more this year
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 08:10
With a large group of freshmen last year, the West Virginia men’s basketball team came into the season with goals of running a more up-tempo style offensively.
But with inexperience and numerous mistakes throughout the season, the Mountaineers weren’t able to accomplish that goal and struggled to score en route to a 19-win season.
After a year of learning and picking up lessons from a disappointing finish a year ago, WVU feels like it is ready to make strides toward being the team it wanted to be a season ago.
"I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity to run this year. We have a lot of athletic players. Everyone on the team is pretty much athletic," said sophomore point guard Juwan Staten. "I know last year we talked about it a lot, but this year’s team is really built for it."
A big key in the Mountaineers’ success will rely on the backcourt.
And the guards were one of the most impressive parts of last week’s Gold and Blue Debut. Led by Staten and sophomore point guards Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne, West Virginia has three capable ball handlers on this year’s team who can run the offense in the open floor.
But with the additions of freshmen Eron Harris and Terry Henderson – as well as senior Matt Humphrey, who transferred to WVU from Boston College – head coach Bob Huggins has depth at the guard position he hasn’t had the last few seasons.
"The thing that caught my eye is how deep we are," Humphrey said. "This is a really deep basketball team, and we’ve got a lot of guys who can play.
"We’ve still got a lot of stuff to clean up offensively and even defensively, especially with rebounding, but all that stuff I think was just first-game jitters. I think we’ll be all right come Nov. 12."
Humphrey scored 23 points on Friday night, and he thinks a lot of the success he had came from having a group of guards that are good at distributing the ball around him.
"We’ve got a lot of bodies and a lot of guys who can go," Humphrey said. "I’m a guard, but my role on this team is to be more of a forward, and that just gives me an opportunity to be on the scoring end of a lot of plays.
"It’ll be very beneficial for us to stay on the attacking end of both sides of the ball."
But as a fast-paced offense, the Mountaineers could potentially give up more points defensively than they have in years past.
With a coach like Huggins, that might not be a problem.
"Giving up more points is not in Coach Huggs’ blood, so defensively, we just turn it up a notch," Humphrey said. "We do a lot more aggressive defensive schemes, but we’re still getting after it.
"(Giving up points) just happens sometimes depending on how we’re pushing the ball in the flow of the game, but I think it’s a balanced attack on both sides. I think it’ll be very successful."
Huggins said playing at a quicker tempo on the offensive end is something that could help West Virginia in close games compared to what they did last year.
The Mountaineers were 4-6 last season in games decided by five points or less.
"We won some close ones, and we lost a bunch of close ones," Huggins said. "We don’t want to make it close.
"We just didn’t have any subs. With more people, you can ask them to do more, because they’re not going to have to play as many minutes."