Actually, I’m not going to spent any time speculating about what ailed and felled the sophomore guard, but after the shootaround Wednesday morning, Terry Henderson did say he was knocked down by a “random illness that came up. It was to the point where I couldn’t participate.”
For all the time from between right before the Iowa State game to right before the Oklahoma game, Henderson was inactive, resting and recuperating. There were no practices or workouts, and that’s not good news for a basketball player late in the season.
“Especially for a guy like me,” he said. “I’m not LeBron. I don’t have a lot of mass on me. Whenever I miss a workout, it’s kind of detrimental to me.”
Henderson didn’t say what exactly was wrong, and he was evasive about other side effects, but he said he lost weight and has been working diligently to gain it back as WVU enters the postseason. I don’t know if I believe the part where he said “I’ve gained it back,” but he’s still in a state of recovery.
“I’ve really been taking the past couple weeks seriously,” he said. “I’m really trying to take care of my body and give it all the nutrients it needs to play at this high level.”
While Henderson wouldn’t admit it — and not that anyone needed such confirmation — Bob Huggins said his third-leading scorer is not 100 percent as far as weight, stamina and rhythm, and that he’ll have a hard time getting it back right now.
“I can’t go in there and run up and down the floor in practice now with the heavy minutes our guys are playing as it is,” Huggins said. “He hasn’t gotten a lot of up and down stuff yet.”
Henderson started 17 straight games before his absence and came off the bench to play 15 promising minutes against Kansas. Huggins said he’ll use Henderson the same in tomorrow’s quarterfinal against Texas.
“We’ll throw him in and see what he does and how he holds up,” Huggins said. “Hopefully, he’s better.”
Henderson scored four points against Texas and neither was on a jump shot. He made two layups, including a tricky finish in transition on a feed from Eron Harris. Otherwise, Henderson said he did what his playing time required, which is the life of a bench player. Different times demand different tasks.
“When I first came in, I was a little winded, but when I got back in, I felt good,” he said. “I felt like I had a lot of energy. I kept wanting to play hard. I didn’t play that much that game anyway, which I knew. I knew coming in. When I did get in, I wanted to do everything I could to help the team, which at that time meant playing defense. I wasn’t worried about taking shots.”
Henderson, though, gives WVU another shooter and WVU has not shot well against Texas. The Longhorns have done well running defenders off WVU’s post players to help teammates and to better discourage and defend drives and jump shots. Henderson played both games, but he was battling the illness in the second game, one where he faded and took just one shot in the final 25 minutes.
If he can do anything offensively, he spreads out the floor a little more, and if that’s coupled with Devin Williams keeping a defender on his hip inside or 16 or so feet from the basket, life is a whole lot easier on Eron Harris and Juwan Staten.
The question is: Can Henderson can do his part offensively? Or is his role to max out small portions and make lesser contributions count more?
“I pretty much do what I do when I’m in a game,” he said. “When I have open shots, I take it. But I’m not trying to force the issue too much. I’ve still got to get back in tip-top shape to where I was before. Until then, I’ll work hard trying to get back where I was. But like I said before, if I have an open shot, I’ll take it. I’m not going to stop being aggressive because I’m a little light-winded.”