Said this in the game post Saturday, but WVU had a nice thing going against Oklahoma when the guards were getting inside and the shooters were getting good looks and actually making them for a change.
The Mountaineers looked like they were enjoying themselves, which hasn’t happened a lot this season. Maybe it was the result of some positive reinforcement since some of the dribble drive elements they worked on in practice were working in the game.
And then everything changed.
WVU had built and grown a lead and then started to go inside, which hasn’t ended well and did not end well against the Sooners. There were turnovers and missed shots and stagnated play on offense and defense.
Deniz Kilicli offered just about nothing of benefit. Aaric Murray had a hard time getting up and down the floor and was getting beaten to rebounds in key spots. Nique Rutledge was erratic and made some costly mistakes. Kevin Noreen, try as he might, doesn’t solve a lot of the problems because he doesn’t score and struggles to rebound.
You’re sensing a trend and so, too, is Bob Huggins. He’s based a lot of his offense on the low post presences he thought could be pillars. They are not. He’s looked lately to his guards, all while hoping it would give Kilicli and Murray room and freedom, but Saturday saw the three starting guards score 42 of the 57 points while the post players had hard, hard times.
“If we’re not going to rebound it, why play those guys?” Huggins said. “We might as well play small and spread ‘em if we’re not going to rebound it. I have a hard time with that, honestly, because my teams have always outrebounded people. We’ve always out-toughed people. But …”
Huggins mulled his options again.
Can a four-guard lineup work in the Big 12? Is the trade-off worth it?
“It’s going to be really hard to stop the people in this league that have quality bigs to play small,” Huggins said. “I guess when you’re not rebounding with your bigs, what the hell makes the difference? If you’re not going to rebound, you’re not going to rebound.”