Bounce house?

Bob Huggins has spent a lot of time this offseason insisting his team will be all right, that it will get back to rebounding and defending, that it’ll be able to guard opponents better because similarly sized players can switch things and avoid mismatches. Absent from that list? That West Virginia will score better or more often in the 2014-15 season.

Take away the second-, third- and fifth-leading scorers and that’s a concern. Watch subtractions lead to an addition in the focus on the likely Big 12 preseason player of the year and that’s a concern. Rid the team of its top three 3-point shooter and … actually, that might not be too concerning.

The Mountaineers relied a whole lot on the 3-point shot last season and did so for a couple of reasons. Juwan Staten attracted a lot of eyeballs and his way with the ball and for finding space opened up opportunities for Eron Harris and Terry Henderson and Remi Dibo. But he was pretty much WVU’s only reliable off-the-bounce player and the Mountaineers mostly lacked anyone who could stand near the basket, catch passes and regularly score.

Surely Huggins sought out low post players, right? Uh, no. He didn’t sign anyone bigger than 6-foot-6, though he has 6-7 and 6-9 forwards who will be eligible in the fall. That those arrivals will combine to lead to needed change.

The 3-point shot is worth more, but it costs more, too, because of the added degree of difficulty. How often last season did Huggins say the team that gets the most easy shots wins the game? How often did WVU lose a game in large part because of lousy jump shooting and no Plan B? Oklahoma was the only Big 12 team that counted on the 3-point shot for more of its offense last season, but the Sooners were also very good at running sets and running into the paint and getting nice looks at the basket — and they also made the NCAA Tournament.

WVU is trying to get back there, and the task is harder without the players it lost to other schools or another country, but maybe that all makes things different, if not easier. WVU is replacing scorers who took a lot of 3-point shots with scorers who haven’t taken nearly as many 3-point shots. Huggins believes the losses and their replacements will make the Mountaineers far more athletic next season and able to score better and more often next season.

“We hope we’ve got more guys who can bounce it in the lane and more guys who can make plays in the lane,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said Tuesday.

14 Responses to “Bounce house?”

  1. Big Al says:

    While I am glad to hear we have “more guys who can bounce it in the lane”, I wonder how long it will be before we hear “we need guys who can shoot the 3 to open up the lane”?

  2. JC says:

    Truck could bounce it in the lane…..who it bounced to was always a concern

  3. SheikYbuti says:

    Holman Harley once bounced it in the lane, which bounced us right out of the NCAA tourney.

  4. Drew says:

    This reminds me of how DH told Mike last year before the season that last year’s team was his favorite of all his teams here so far.

  5. Dann White says:

    I am way past these measures Huggins has taken to “fix it”. I want him to be successful, I really do, but I find it hard we are going to win Big 12 titles with 2 “kind of” big guys that have yet to play a minute of college ball, a few Juco “maybes”, and a great point guard.
    Like I said before: I really want it to happen the way he has it figured, but it appears there are just too many patches on this team for it to hold up through a season in the B12. I guess we can just hope against hope. Lord knows that Coach is….

    Dann

  6. KeatonsCorner says:

    kind of big guys?

    Macon is 6’9 with a 7ft wingspan and great vertical. He’s also walking around at 245lbs right now too…… kind of big?

    Holton averaged a near double-double in the Atlantic 10 as a true frosh too, so to question his ability is simply your choice, but not a logical one.

    Folks can’t keep using the “unproven” card on players that HAVE proven themselves in legit D1 and JUCO competition.

  7. jtmountaineer says:

    My favorite thing I’ve heard about Holton, biased though it might be, is from Staten, who said he’ll be one of the ten best players in the Big 12.

    My ideal scenario for the juco transfers, Phillip, Page, and Williams, is that they are contributors who are happy contributing. Granted, it’ll be less likely for a juco transfer to transfer a second time, but I’d like to see these guys satisfied as role players, if they do turn out to be role players, in the manner of Gary Browne or Dom Rutledge.

  8. smeer says:

    lots of potential. lots of unknowns. as jt remarked, will they become a TEAM (ala know one’s role)? Staten showed the hunger to turn it around last year. who else is hungry to turn from mediocrity? who’s working their tails off in that beautiful WVU basketball museum/court which has yet to pay for itself in recruiting or player development?

  9. I love you, Doug! says:

    State’s season last year set the expectation bar WAY high for him this year. Fans should not expect the same amount of improvement from his junior to senior seasons as they say from his sophomore to junior seasons. Just maintaining his stellar performance from last season will be a challenge.

  10. smeer says:

    ilyd – me? i worry about regression – not in his ability, but in team chemistry. somebody has to be able to hit some jump shots in order to open up the paint for Staten. Huggs wants a big guy down on the blocks? is there enough room for Staten and a big guy in the paint? can one of our bigs set picks at the foul line and be able to hit a jump shot from there? saving grace would be having a team that can defensive rebound and hit outlet passes to fuel the fastbreak. we’ve been waiting to see that for years. i expect there will be bumps in the road early in the season as the team learns how to play yet one more style of O. back to the original question – who, other than Staten, can do anything off the bounce?

  11. Dann White says:

    KC,
    I didn’t accuse Macon/Holton of being small, but let’s face it; at 6’7″ & 6’9″, they’re not going to be towering over the crowd in our conference.
    I am hopeful, just unconvinced that Coach has put together a TEAM, not just a sundry group of players. Once bitten, twice shy!!
    Dann

  12. KeatonsCorner says:

    Dann,

    Who was the tallest for B12 Tournament Champs ISU?

    6’7 Melvin Ejim

    Who was the our center on the Final Four team that out-rebounded everyone?

    6’5 Wellington Smith

    The worries about team chemistry are useless, as chemistry can be build, and torn apart, in a day when it comes to basketball….. Ask Eron Harris. He completely removed himself from our team the last half of the season.

    By March, it was Harris, Henderson, and Dibo………………………. and then the team. Those three completely segregated themselves from the rest. Not on knock on Terry or Remi. They just stayed away.

    Huggins has invited a large amount of former players back to campus this summer to train for pro ball, and he is using this tactic to surround the current roster with success stories and leadership in order to quicken the “team” development. Make no mistake, when those 3 players left, and with the way Harris and his family were so vocal about their opinions of Huggins, the former players took it personally, and carry a “chip” along with the current roster of players too. Guys like Flowers, Butler, KJ, and even Dom Rutledge are in the gym working with these players daily (yes, I know KJ isn’t in town right now) and they’re fast-tracking progress because it’s personal now.

    You attack one, you attack us all in Mountaineer Nation.

  13. I love you, Doug! says:

    I don’t feel attacked. This isn’t a troll-dome. We give and take.

  14. KeatonsCorner says:

    ILYD,

    I was referring to the comments of one particular transfer as attacks towards WVU, not posters here in the comments section of a blog.