Sloppy play continues to haunt WVU
Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 23:11
At halftime Tuesday morning, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins gave his team a simple message: Don't get complacent.
The veteran head coach told his team that Kent State would continue to fight back, and if they didn't find a way to play better in the second half, they could end up losing to the Golden Flashes.
But the Mountaineers' sloppy play continued in the second half, as they finished the game with 17 turnovers and allowed Kent State to shoot 58 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes.
WVU's 17 turnovers Tuesday brings its average through its first two games of the season up to 19, something Huggins just can't seem to get his head around.
"Basketball's been my life. I grew up in the gym with my father," he said. "If you come try to steal my ball, I'm going to bust you in the mouth. You're not going to take my ball.
"Walk into my house and try to take my ball; it isn't going to go very well. That's what I tried to explain to them."
Members of the team feel the Mountaineers' struggles through their first few games of the year can't be attributed to a lack of talent or even to the large amount of inexperienced players on the roster. It's just a question of effort.
"We had a chance to win, and we just took plays off. That's horrible," said junior forward Deniz Kilicli. "This is the worst thing we can do. I understand we get confused and mess up sets, but if you're not competing, that's horrible."
While he wouldn't place the blame on any one player – especially the freshmen – Kilicli said if he sees people not trying as hard as they can in practice, he'll do something one of the former Mountaineers did in years past.
"We talk to (the freshmen) and everything, and I'm not blaming them. It's hard for them to grow up this fast, but they have to," Kilicli said. "Last year, me and Joe (Mazzulla) got in a fight because he thought I wasn't competing enough.
"I think I'm going to go to that Joe Mazzulla style of getting people involved in practice."
Huggins felt one of the problems toward the end of the Kent State game was the seniors were pressing too much to try to make plays.
Senior guard Truck Bryant had six turnovers to just one assist, and four of those came in the second half.
"That's human nature to try to do something positive, and then in the end, you're not really doing anything positive," Huggins said. "It's human nature to try to make a play when, a lot of times, plays aren't there.
"We're just not good enough to overcome those things."
The Mountaineers did make improvements in one big area on Tuesday.
After being outrebounded 37-24 against Oral Roberts, West Virginia won the battle on the glass 46-31, including career-high days for Kilicli and senior forward Kevin Jones, who combined to have more rebounds than the Golden Flashes.
"I just can't fix everything at once. I told you I would fix the rebounding, and I put a much greater emphasis on rebounding and the basketball," Huggins said.
"Defense, you have to know what you are doing, and rebounding, more than anything, is effort-related, and we just had to crank up the effort."
Although the Mountaineers were able to make improvements in rebounding, there's still plenty of work to be done.
And with so much to do, they know they need to make big strides to eliminate sloppy play beginning Thursday when the Mountaineers take on Alcorn State.
"We've got to get there quick. We don't have time; the season already started," Kilicli said. "We can't be 15-15 before the tournament; we can't have that. We have to just man up and get everybody involved and have a good year."