Mountaineers benefiting from ‘scorer by committee’
Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 23:02
With its top offensive scoring threat suspended, the West Virginia basketball team knew it was going to be tough to score for the remainder of the season.
Players who were not relied upon earlier in the season for an offensive output would be depended on after shooting guard Casey Mitchell was suspended indefinitely last month.
First, it was point guard Joe Mazzulla who carried the squad with double-digit scoring performances in consecutive games.
Then, on Wednesday night against Seton Hall, forward Cam Thoroughman provided an offensive spark for the Mountaineers by scoring a career-high 10 points in a 56-44 victory over the Pirates.
"That is not going to be something that is going to happen every game," Thoroughman said. "They are not going to count on me every game to do that, but today, I shot it well.
The 6-foot-7 forward netted four field goals in the first 3:28 of the contest, which beat his previous career-high for an entire game of three.
Thoroughman's teammates saw this scoring production coming, though.
"Now that Casey is gone, everyone has to shoot," said forward Deniz Kilicli. "Cam had that, and he was doing it in practices."
Head coach Bob Huggins also had confidence in Thoroughman's jump shot, so much so that he encouraged the Portsmouth, Ohio, native to take advantages of scoring chances.
"We have been telling him to shoot it," Huggins said. "He has got to shoot it when he is wide open, and he is capable of shooting it in."
Another player who sparked the WVU offense Wednesday night was Kilicli.
He scored 10 points off the bench and added seven rebounds, all while playing with an aggressive edge.
"That happens when you play hard and have a passion for the game," Kilcili said.
Huggins, though, still sees areas where the sophomore forward can improve going forward.
"When Deniz does what he can do, he is very good," Huggins said. "When Deniz gets out of his element, he is not very good."
WVU currently holds a 6-3 record in the Big East Conference, and now, is tied with four other teams for second place in the league.
To many, this is unexpected after the events earlier in the season, but to the Mountaineers, it is just hard work paying off.
"We are just playing as a more cohesive unit," said forward John Flowers.
One positive that head coach Bob Huggins took away from the contest was the toughness of his team's defense.
In the last four games, West Virginia has allowed an average of just 50 points per game.
"By and large, we have made a lot of progress defensively and rebounding the basketball," Huggins said. "Those are two areas where we were weak earlier in the season."
The Mountaineers were particularly stout against the Pirates' top offensive threats, guard Jeremy Hazell and forward Herb Pope.
"We guarded them pretty good," Huggins said. "John (Flowers) did a great job chasing Hazell, and his length helped."