WVU freshmen playing well despite team’s struggles
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 00:01
This season has undoubtedly been a tumultuous one for the West Virginia men’s basketball team, but despite its well-documented struggles, there have been some bright, young spots amongst the collective adversity.
The most noticeable has been freshman guard Eron Harris.
Harris, a 6-foot-2 freshman from Indianapolis, has worked his way into the Mountaineers’ starting lineup during their last five games by giving West Virginia men’s basketball head coach Bob Huggins consistent minutes on both ends of the floor for most of the year.
"It is what it is," Harris said. "I hit my shots. I got to the free throw line.
"I’m just playing ball now, like I have since I was three-years old. Just playing ball but inside the works of the offense. When I get it and see a lane, I’ll take it and be strong with the ball and get it to the rim, try to get fouled. That’s all I’m thinking."
The true freshman’s youth did show Monday night at the WVU Coliseum against Kansas as Harris went 0-5 from the field, including a stagnant 0-for-4 mark from behind the arc. But then again, it was Harris’ first real test against a truly elite defense, and one from which he most likely learned a lot.
And even after not making a shot in West Virginia’s last appearance against the Jayhawks, Harris is still shooting the ball from the perimeter better than anyone else on the team.
Sophomore forward Kevin Noreen is technically shooting a slightly higher 3-point percentage (44 percent) than Harris (39.7 percent), but Noreen has made just four of his nine total attempts on the season, while Harris leads the team with 23 made shots on 58 attempts from beyond the three-point line.
Overall, Harris has shot a cool 44 percent from the floor, and made 81 percent of his 37 free-throw attempts – good for third on the team in his first year of collegiate basketball.
It should also be noted that all this success has come on the heels of a semi-slow start out of the gate for the true freshman. Harris showed promise in practices, and it was only a matter of time before that shooting ability translated into better game performances.
And he isn’t the only freshman who has proven to be a reliable threat from beyond the arc for the Mountaineers this season, either.
Fellow true freshman guard Terry Henderson has also been one of the brighter spots for a West Virginia team that hasn’t faced this much adversity in a decade.
Henderson has started 11 games and is currently shooting 38 percent from the floor and 31 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers would also most likely be even higher, but Henderson has battled his way back from a lower back injury for about six games now, although he certainly won’t use that as an excuse.
Since then, he’s been supplanted in the starting lineup by Harris, but when he was 100 percent healthy, Henderson showed an uncanny ability to score from the perimeter in bunches. In fact, Henderson has already recorded six games in double figures during his freshman campaign, including two 20-point performances, despite missing time with the injury.
One of those efforts came in WVU’s Big 12 conference play debut against Oklahoma, where Henderson made five 3-pointers in the first half alone.
"I hated sitting on the sidelines," Henderson said, after finally returning to the floor last week following his aforementioned injury. "I’ll support my team throughout it all, but deep down I wanted to get back out on the court. And it felt great being out there."
In addition to Henderson’s obvious and constant hunger to perform – a seemingly rare trait on this year’s team – the freshman has also shown a tremendous aptitude as a teammate, never once showing an ounce of resentment toward anyone, despite being replaced in the starting lineup.
In fact, Henderson has been as supportive as anybody of his fellow freshman Harris during their first season together in Morgantown.
"I’m glad to see him playing well," Henderson said of Harris. "It’s a great feeling. We came in as a dynamic duo. I keep encouraging him, and I’ll always be there for him."