West Virginia looks to find balance in 2012-13
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 08:10
When things got tough for the West Virginia men’s basketball team last season, it could turn to Kevin Jones to come up with a big basket.
This season, after Jones and guard Truck Bryant graduated, the Mountaineers will look to replace more than 50 percent of their points from last season.
Heading into the season, they won’t be looking to just one or two players to take their place. It will have to be a team effort.
And in head coach Bob Huggins’ experience, sometimes that’s the best way to go about it.
"When I had a group of guys and you couldn’t key so much on a certain guy, we were harder to guard, because you never knew where it was coming from. Hopefully we can do that," Huggins said. "Hopefully we can get points from a variety of places and take advantage of what they’re doing."
Much like they tried to do more of last season, the Mountaineers are going to try to run the floor more. With sophomores Juwan Staten, Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne, WVU will have three point guards with experience handling the ball the majority of the time to help get that transition game going more often.
"It’s going to be real good. We’re all really comfortable whenever we have the ball in our hands," Hinds said. "Whoever gets it, we’ll be able to push it up the court and make things happen. It’s going to be real exciting."
Hinds and Browne will be two of the five sophomores on this year’s team who played their first season at West Virginia a year ago.
Huggins is already seeing the group make significant strides, which will be expected to do a lot more this season.
"We’re a lot better, but we’re a lot better for a lot of reasons," Huggins said. "They’re so much more comfortable with what they’re doing.
"You can’t think and play. If you think, it’s already done. It’s so much a game of reaction and, with a year under their belt, they’re so much better."
But with more expectations come more responsibilities for the group.
"We can’t make little mistakes we used to make," Browne said. "Right now we’re all looking forward to being more of a team and make sure everybody is ready to do what it takes to win games and be successful in the Big 12."
And they’ll be looking to make more contributions while adjusting to a new conference in their first season in the new conference.
While the Big East Conference is always thought of as one of the premier conferences in the country, the veteran head coach said the Mountaineers will have to be ready every night in the Big 12. West Virginia was picked Thursday to finish in sixth place in the league.
"I love the Big East, and there were 10 teams that were as good as anybody. But there were also five or six teams that never made the NCAA tournament while I was there," Huggins said. "Honestly, we couldn’t play well at home, and we’d still beat some of those teams (in the Big East). We can’t do that in the Big 12.
"I think their preparation will be terrific because of the quality of coaching. If we’re the sixth-best team, it’s a hell of a league."